Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Japan Idle

With Sales Down, Whale Meat Flogged As Source of Strength 311

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-flog-whale-ice-cream-instead? dept.
beaverdownunder writes "From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: 'Japan's peak whaling body has launched a new campaign to promote whale meat as a nutritious food that enhances physical strength and reduces fatigue. With about 5,000 tonnes of whale meat sitting unwanted in freezers around Japan, the country's Institute for Cetacean Research has decided to launch a new campaign to promote the by-product of its so-called scientific whaling program. Once popular in school lunches, younger generations of Japanese rarely, if ever, eat whale."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

With Sales Down, Whale Meat Flogged As Source of Strength

Comments Filter:
  • by bruce_the_loon (856617) on Monday June 03, 2013 @04:14AM (#43893993) Homepage

    The bastards and their ships need to be pulled down to the deep dark ooze of the abyss where tentacled beasties will toy with their souls for eternity.

    • by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Monday June 03, 2013 @04:47AM (#43894125)
      So this research that they claim that the whaling is for would appear to be market research???
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 03, 2013 @05:28AM (#43894233)

        The Kappamaki, a whaling research ship, was currently researching the question: How many whales can you catch in one week?
                        -- (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman, Good Omens)

        • by tragedy (27079)

          In my edition of that book, the genius US editors "corrected" that to "How many whales can you watch in one week?" Because why would a research ship be catching whales? Obvious error. They also inexplicably changed the scene where Crowley's demonic superiors communicate to him through Woody on _Cheers_ to Rose on Golden Girls. Apparently they were worried that US readers would be unfamiliar with _Cheers_.

      • by Luckyo (1726890) on Monday June 03, 2013 @05:56AM (#43894321)

        They claim they want to prove that whales are numerous enough to again allow for commercial whaling, and that such proof would be impossible to gather without research. Assuming you see whales as just another resource, like fish, this is a reasonable stance to take.

        The underlying issue is that many countries want a total moratorium on whaling for cultural reasons. Japan and several other countries with long culture of whaling view this as insanity and see whales as the same as any other nautical resource. In a way they are right, many of modern fish stocks are in much worse condition then many of the whale stocks, but because many of the countries that want total moratorium have severe vested interests in fishing but no whaling, they deflect attention from painful decisions that need to be taken in regards to fishery policy by focusing attention on whaling which is essentially free for them - as they do not have a whaling fleet or culture of whaling.

        • What part of "sitting unwanted in freezers" and "killing whales" is part of your moronic idea of popluation study? Oh! The Bald Eagle is Endangered.... Guess What's For Dinner! Get bent you idiot.

          • by stoploss (2842505) on Monday June 03, 2013 @07:31AM (#43894619)

            What part of "sitting unwanted in freezers" and "killing whales" is part of your moronic idea of popluation study? Oh! The Bald Eagle is Endangered.... Guess What's For Dinner! Get bent you idiot.

            Just an FYI: not all whale species are endangered. You can see some examples here (prepare to give your L type cones [wikipedia.org] a function test):
            Humpback whale [iucnredlist.org], Minke whale [iucnredlist.org], Southern Right whale [iucnredlist.org].

            As you can see, those species are listed as "Least Concern" by the IUCN, which happens to be the same category that the sewer rat [wikipedia.org] receives. There have been allegations that endangered whales have been killed by the Japanese whaling industry, which is obviously reprehensible.

            BTW, there have also been allegations that the "Least Concern" bald eagle [iucnredlist.org] (oh, also FYI: it's no longer endangered) have been killed by the Amish chicken farming industry. [lancasteronline.com]

            I don't really have an opinion on the ethics of whaling "least concern" whale species. I consider that concept similar to the beef industry. Why is killing and eating cow acceptable if killing and eating non-threatened whale species is not? Of course, you will notice that the ethical consideration is orthogonal to the legality consideration.

            I am vegetarian, so I am not faced with cognitive dissonance about the situation, but I don't care which animals that other people eat if it isn't actively promoting extinction of a species.

            • by dywolf (2673597)

              the difference would be cows are currently maintained as a sustainable managed food source. whales are not; whales would only be able to provide food on the scale of cows for a year or two before being going from LC to EX.

              • by stoploss (2842505)

                the difference would be cows are currently maintained as a sustainable managed food source. whales are not; whales would only be able to provide food on the scale of cows for a year or two before being going from LC to EX.

                True, but is anyone actually proposing that? As with fisheries, there is a sustainable catch limit on these least concern animals. Though this isn't a binary consideration, it seems concern should be allocated more for the northwestern Atlantic cod fishery [wikipedia.org] than taking a sustainable number (whatever that means objectively in context) of these non-threatened whales.

                I mentioned the cod because Americans are likely to be consuming fish sticks, etc, even though we don't have a cultural predilection to eat whale.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by losfromla (1294594)

                the difference would be cows are currently maintained as a sustainable managed food source. whales are not; whales would only be able to provide food on the scale of cows for a year or two before being going from LC to EX.

                If feeding an animal a wholly inappropriate diet petroleum based diet (corn and dead chickens), attempting to mitigate the damage resulting from such an unnatural diet via the continual use of sub-therapeutic anti-biotics, and extensive ecological damage due to highly concentrated and toxic manure, then, yeah sustainably managed food source.
                ** Applies to factory meat only, grass-fed and finished is a whole different story

            • by Xest (935314) on Monday June 03, 2013 @08:34AM (#43894915)

              "There have been allegations that endangered whales have been killed by the Japanese whaling industry, which is obviously reprehensible."

              It's not just simply allegation, some of the more endangered species are on their annual catch list.

              "I am vegetarian, so I am not faced with cognitive dissonance about the situation, but I don't care which animals that other people eat if it isn't actively promoting extinction of a species."

              It's not cognitive dissonance, there's sound scientific reasoning behind it all.

              Whales feed on things like krill, and if you lower the whale population, the population of the likes of krill increase. When the population of krill increases the population of phytoplankton decreases, when the population of phytoplankton decreases some fish stock lose their breeding and feeding grounds and the population of fish can decline and so on and so forth - you get the idea.

              We can't say well, humpbacks are overpopulated so let's just start killing them now, because the fact is the likes of humpbacks are overpopulated because they've been able to thrive on the excess of krill leftover from the depleted populations of the likes of blue whales and so forth but as blues increase in population they will start to take back their fair share and the population of humpbacks will decline back to more natural levels. Ultimately the balance of populations has been decided by evolution in that the more successful a species the greater a share of the shared food source it can devour and the natural balance of populations will be based on that - if humans leave an ecosystem alone the populations will eventually return to their natural state, but it's a long process and certainly doesn't happen overnight.

              Enter humans into the equation and if we decrease the population of a successful species like blue whales the population of the likes of humpbacks increase. The problem is that what you're now advocating is that well, there's plenty of humpbacks now the blue whales are depleted so let's deplete them too, and that's not a problem if you do this sustainably such that the amount of humpbacks you remove is equivalent to the relative growth in blue whales as their population recovers but that's not what the Japanese want, they now want to start hunting the likes of humpback as fast as blues were hunted so that the net result is an overall reduction in the amount of krill eating species and such.

              This is the fundamental problem, it's about ensuring there is a net amount of, I guess you could call it whale biomass, to keep things like krill at safe levels. The fact is that yes, whilst the likes of humpbacks and minke are at above natural population levels had we not hunted other species to the point of extinction that that's still necessary to maintain balance in the relevant ecosystems. Or to put it succinctly, we need the increased minke/humpback etc. populations to fulfil the role of the decreased populations of other whales.

              Japan is just scared that if it just gives it up and admits it was wrong on this issue that it'll look weak and that the Chinese will start taking islands off them expecting them to relent on that sort of thing too. They'd be better off doing their population that has no interest in this meat a favour and give it up, saving their country millions that they could put towards sorting their otherwise fucked up economy out because the government subsidises the whaling industry in almost it's entirety. There's no economic benefit, there's no cultural benefit (the people have already stopped eating it), and there's no environmental benefit, it's entirely a pathetically poor political decision that, if not kept in check by the rest of the world genuinely puts many large fish stocks at risk than they already are currently due to the knock on effects.

            • Quite agree with the ethical argument, which is why I do neither.

              However one huge difference between cattle and whales is the way that they kill them. A bolt to the head is not the slow death of an explosive harpoon. Average time to death for the last year of Norwegian whaling was 3 minutes, with the longest being 50 minutes.

              http://whales7.tripod.com/policies/methods.html [tripod.com]

            • by jrumney (197329)

              As you can see, those species are listed as "Least Concern" by the IUCN, which happens to be the same category that the sewer rat receives.

              So eating whale meat is like eating sewer rats? You should apply for a job at the marketing department of the Japan Whaling and Fishing Association. They need someone with your expertise.

        • by ZekeSpeak (947670) on Monday June 03, 2013 @07:13AM (#43894557)

          they deflect attention from painful decisions that need to be taken in regards to fishery policy by focusing attention on whaling which is essentially free for them - as they do not have a whaling fleet or culture of whaling.

          This has nothing to do with fishing stocks. For a start, whales are mammals, not fish. The whale watching industry in Australia is worth more than 31 million dollars a year, worlwide the value is in billions.

          The humpback whales now travelling up the East Coast of Australia once numbered 500 and now, due to the whaling ban now number over 18,000.

          Do you think that the humpbacks would come anywhere near a boat if the Japanese whalers once again start harpooning them as they've been planning to do? You'd see a multi-billion dollar industry destroyed.

          Actually, Australian fisheries are in a far better condition than many around the world. They do especially well when compared to Japanese fisheries, if there are any left.

          • by Xenx (2211586)
            While I'm not siding with whaling, it's wrong to claim the failure of one industry as a valid reason to disallow another industry. That is, unless the "original" industry is of greater importance. From an academic standpoint, food production outweighs entertainment.
            • From an academic standpoint, food production outweighs entertainment.

              Maybe that statement is generally true (although I do wonder why you consider academia to be the adjudicators of what is important), but we are not talking about an essential food resource here. We can feed the world without killing whales.

              • by CastrTroy (595695)
                We can feed the world without killing most of the animals we do. I'm not against eating animals, but I think we eat way too much meat as a society. You only need about 6 ounces of meat in a day, but you'll rarely find anything on any menu that doesn't give you at least 8 ounces, and that's for a single meal. As long as we properly control the amount of wild animals we kill, we can do so without harming populations of the animal, and in some cases, actually helping other endangered species to survive.
                • by tnk1 (899206)

                  Most meat consumed is from farm animals, who basically exist to be someone's dinner. In that regard, nothing is going to go extinct because of a hamburger. Certainly not cattle.

                  The problem with fish (and other marine life) is that while there are some fisheries and such to produce more, it is much more difficult to raise fish in a closed environment where they can be corralled and, if need be, protected. Not to mention the fact that mass fishing involves a lot of collateral damage to other species. In e

          • This has nothing to do with fishing stocks. For a start, whales are mammals, not fish.

            So? It's about sustainable catching of marine animals. So, semantics don't matter that much. And if you're going to go with excessive pedantry, you'll know that "fish" isn't really a great classification biologically speaking since it does indeed miss out whales (and others).

        • by DinDaddy (1168147)

          I travel to Japan frequently, and a few years ago it was with somewhat disgusted amusement I read an editorial in a Tokyo newspaper about how whaling was beneficial, in that whales were largely to blame for depleted fisheries. They completely failed to reconcile, or even mention, how fish populations declining parallel whale population declines, or present any evidence for the assertion at all.

          There is serious denial there.

  • so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pubstar (2525396) on Monday June 03, 2013 @04:16AM (#43894001)
    Why didn't the poster just include the last sentence so that the summary is just TFA? Also, I wonder how this is being covered on slashdot.jp.
  • Well, duh - Europeans also used to eat whale and now rarely if ever.
    • Re:Europeans (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Teun (17872) on Monday June 03, 2013 @04:34AM (#43894083) Homepage
      Yes so?

      When extinction became an issue civilised nations agreed to stop whaling.
      The exceptions are for indigenous populations like those living in polar regions and some scientific work.
      As a result in the short term whales are no longer threatened by extinction but in the long term they still face threats.
      Japan's excuse would be laughable if it weren't for the fact when all previous whaling nations would do the same the problem of extinction would surface again.

      Where a great nation shows child-like behaviour.

      • When extinction became an issue civilised nations agreed to stop whaling.

        Only that the whale species which are now hunted (in very limited quantities) are not threathened by extinction.

        Not that I really care. Whale meat is not something I will ever miss. It used to be the real cheap meat around here. For a reason.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday June 03, 2013 @04:26AM (#43894051) Homepage Journal
    one of the more popular places in Tokyo [kujiraya.co.jp] only charges 5,000 yen(about $50) per person for parties of 2 or more, complete with an all-you-can drink(alcohol, not that soft drink crap they have in the US :P). Doesn't sound very cheap, but there aren't a lot of places you can get an all-you-can-drink with food for less than 5,000 yen. Just FYI, you get fried whale, whale sashimi, whale soup, and some udon noodles for your cash. I actually had it before, not bad.
    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday June 03, 2013 @07:06AM (#43894539)

      . . . fried whale, whale sashimi, whale soup, and some udon noodles . . .

      "But I don't like whale . . . do you have something without whale . . . ?

      "You mean . . . udon noodles, without whale . . . ? Uck!"

      "Can I have spam, instead of whale . . . ?"

  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Monday June 03, 2013 @04:37AM (#43894097) Homepage

    "Eat this and you, too, can look like a whale!"

  • I'm thinking of converting my Hummer to run on whale oil.

    • I'm thinking of converting my Hummer to run on whale oil.

      Seems like a hand job would work better with whale oil than a hummer...

    • Re:Not just for food (Score:4, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday June 03, 2013 @08:08AM (#43894759) Journal

      I'm thinking of converting my Hummer to run on whale oil.

      According to this [google.com], contemporary sperm whale oil production peaked at almost 39 barrels/whale in 1952. At current US daily consumption of ~19 million barrels(and assuming that whale squeezin's are equivalent to inorganic oils), a mere ~488,000 whales per day could entirely eliminate our wasteful demand for oil!

      That would exhaust the estimated pre-hunting wild population in about two days; but I'm sure that bold advances in aquaculture will step in to fill the gap.

  • Again? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Monday June 03, 2013 @05:13AM (#43894193) Homepage Journal
    Whale meat again,
    Don't know where,
    don't know when.
    But I'll know whale meat again,
    some sunnyyyyyyy day!
  • Health benefits ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Coeurderoy (717228) on Monday June 03, 2013 @05:17AM (#43894203)
    Their claim for health benefits depends on focusing on Balenine and ignoring the high level of polutions the whale process. "Unfortunatelly" Balenine is also present in Chicken (and humans, but that might need "a lot" of advertizing to convince people...) So the "smart" action would be to really think about how to retrain the people involved into something that is not threatening a specie that is in danger of extinction, and that just might be sentient...
  • From whales to sea kittens [peta.org], eating stuff from the ocean is now completely absurd. I'm sticking with cows.. yummy, yummy dead cow. Surely no one could object to eating a cow! - HEX
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday June 03, 2013 @05:27AM (#43894227)

    It'll destroy humanity. I learned it in Star Trek 4 [wikipedia.org].

  • Source of Mercury (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 03, 2013 @05:36AM (#43894251)

    Tests have shown that whale and dolphin meat has enough mercury to be practically toxic waste. Japanese would be crazy to start eating it, especially in large amounts.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Same goes for pretty much any fish that is on top of the food chain, such as various tuna species.

    • by GloomE (695185)

      But mercury is a metal.
      And metals are strong.
      And mercury doesn't fatigue.
      So all their claims must be true.

  • by Hans Adler (2446464) on Monday June 03, 2013 @06:02AM (#43894347)

    It's not really about whales or their meat. It's about oil and similar resources.

    According to international treaties, under certain conditions a country has the right to drill for oil in a certain area if it has traditionally and recently been exploiting the area economically in other ways. This explains a few things about the Japanese whaling programme that would make no sense otherwise. Why they are doing this even though they have no need for the meat, as the article makes clear. But also why they are not making a better effort to disguise the whaling as scientific. Sure, they are arguing before the IWC that it's primarily scientific. But sooner or later they will have to argue before a different body that it's primarily economic, and has always been so. The more obviously economic the programme is, the better it is for their purpose, so long as they can get away with it before the IWC.

  • by houbou (1097327) on Monday June 03, 2013 @06:47AM (#43894473) Journal
    we are coming to a point where we can literally grow our foods and we can get our proteins and amino acids from any food source without the process of killing. We really need to encourage these techniques and technologies.
  • "Buy a kilo of whale meat and get a free tiger penis and bear gall bladder." Snake oil is so 1800's...
    • Dude, have you ever seen a tiger's dong? Why'd I wanna have a pencil dick with a built in cheese grater?

      • Tiger penis:
        "The penis of a tiger when consumed is said to enhance male virility and be an aphrodisiac, although no scientific studies currently support these claims. In parts of southeast Asia it is seen as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. This has contributed to the poaching of tigers for their presumed benefits, the penis being just one of many of its assets. As a result the tiger penis is usually sold on the black market in China."

        Bear gall bladder:
        Clears heat and alleviates spasms - high fever
      • Maybe a better response would be: "no, but your mom has."
  • by jonwil (467024) on Monday June 03, 2013 @07:22AM (#43894581)

    If people aren't interested in eating whale meat, why not just give up on the hunt and stop killing the things?
    Continuing to produce a product no-one is interested in (and that large swathes of the rest of the world would rather you didn't produce) seems stupid to me, especially if they have to divert money from tsunami relief to pay for it.

    Is it because of lobbying by the whale fishermen? Concerns from the government about where all the people involved in the industry are gonna get jobs if the industry is shut down? National pride? (i.e. "we have been catching whales for decades, why should we stop now just because someone else tells us to") Something else?

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday June 03, 2013 @08:08AM (#43894765) Journal

      The funny thing is that whaling is a western thing but post WW2 the Japanese were encouraged to start whaling to augment their diet. And it sorta stuck. When the article claims "once popular in school meals" what they really mean is: once the only meat in school meals. It is like claiming "levertraan" (fishoil) was popular in Holland... it was given to lots of kids to boost their vitamin intake but it sure as hell wasn't popular.

      Whaling in Japan is mostly an issue that most don't care about but for a small group it has become an identity issue. It is the same group who claim mass child rape was essential to the Japanese psyche during WW2. (See Yokohama's mayor recent claims). To most Japanese it is an embarrassment but they have trouble not getting accused of being non-japanese the same as everyone has when they are confronting those wrapping themselves in their nations flag.

      You might as well post about the NRA and their antics and ask Americans how they feel about it. You get the same kind of "oh gosh, I am embarrassed but they are waving my flag so if I attack them I am a traitor".

      • There's a lot of truth to SmallFurryCreature's post, but I'd also say that to some extent in Japan whale meat is like McRib is in the USA. This is what I mean by the comparison. Most Americans who I know refuse to eat McRib (it's a heavily processed pork sandwich that McDonald's sells in the USA at random times - most of the time it's unavailable) and consider it to be bad even by McDonald's low standards. I will never forget a co-worker saying "That's disgusting!" when someone else in the office talked
      • by jrumney (197329)

        It is the same group who claim mass child rape was essential to the Japanese psyche during WW2. (See Yokohama's mayor recent claims).

        Somehow I think you've confused her with someone else.

    • by hxnwix (652290)

      It's a nationalism thing. Even if no Japanese person would eat a single mouthful of whale, the Japanese nationalists would still want whales hunted solely to stick a finger in the eye of the gaijins.

    • Continuing to produce a product no-one is interested in (and that large swathes of the rest of the world would rather you didn't produce) seems stupid to me

      Maybe they had some RIAA consultants advising?

    • by Xest (935314)

      It's because successive Japanese governments have been scared to death that if they give up to the international community on whaling they'll be seen as weak and that nations like China, Russia, and South Korea will be emboldened to go after them over their disputes (such as dispute island ownership).

      You also have to look at it from the Japanese mindset, they're a very proud people who really really struggle with admitting fault - this is why a few members of the Japanese government have now said they can't

  • Hunting whales is at the very least morally questionable. You know, with them being kinda endangered and all that. Now, one could have argued that it's traditional for Japanese to hunt and eat them, and that tradition plays a big role in their culture, so it's kinda hard to get that out of their system and that's why they need to come up with so many reasons to tiptoe around the whaling bans. Ok. We can understand that. I mean, we kill human beings to protect our way of life, so who are we to judge them for

    • by EzInKy (115248)

      Just to clarify, if whale meat was plentiful you'd have no problems with hunting whales at all?

      • by JustNiz (692889)

        Can't speak for the OP but I dont agree with whale hunting, but only because they are endangered. I like the idea of biodiversity.

        Assuming you have already decided you are going to eat meat at all, I personally don't see the difference between hunting whales and any other non-endangered animal (say cows) for that purpose.

  • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Monday June 03, 2013 @09:24AM (#43895305) Homepage

    Once popular in school lunches, younger generations of Japanese rarely, if ever, eat whale."

    It was quite never popular to begin with. It tastes awful to begin with, and kids hated it. My wife (a Japanese citizen) finds it like repugnant rubber. It was pushed by the government as school lunches, so it was predominant at once. But predominant does not mean "popular" as this case demonstrates.

    To be honest, I cannot remember once single Japanese person I know that has actually said anything positive about whale hunting or whale meat, not even older people (and they do eat some crazy, weird tasting food, like natto). Obviously this is just personal, anecdotal evidence, but still.

    Unfortunately political apathy and disenfranchisement being part of the current Japanese ethos prevent actual democratic challenges to the ossified bureocratic structures and interests groups that still fight and rationalize the archaic practice of dishing rubber-shit-tasting whale meat as part of a daily breakfast :/

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Monday June 03, 2013 @12:07PM (#43896767)

    As near as I can figure, the Japanese government mostly continues to support the whaling industry out of spite. They keep whaling because other countries try to tell them they aren't allowed to do it.

Information is the inverse of entropy.

Working...