On Wednesday it was revealed that after repeated auctions, 75% of the whale meat from last year’s hunt in Japan could not be sold. A somewhat-public body named the Institute of Cetacean Research, which organizes Japan’s whaling expeditions, stated the statistic that out of the 1,200 tons of the minke, Bryde’s, and sei meat, three-quarters could not find interested buyers. This is probably good news to the ears of Paul Watson, founder of the environmental activist group Sea Shepherd, which has staged ocean attacks on Japanese whaling ships for years.
These statistics do not take into account the smaller, local whaling programs from small towns in northern Japan, where they have long-held traditions of eating whale meat, and buyers are often found. The cetacean institute said that auctions were held from November to March, selling the frozen meat from hunts in the Pacific Ocean last summer. The hopes were that the auctions would promote the meat for eating purposes and increase revenue, however the sales were more than disappointing, said a spokesman, as food sellers wanted to avoid any trouble with anti-whaling activists.
Japan uses a loophole to get around international sanctions on whaling for commercial purposes, claiming that it is done as part of research efforts. While activists groups like Sea Shepherd and nations that oppose whaling have repeatedly condemned the actions, Japan’s fishing industry claims that it is a long-held tradition and part of the nation’s heritage. While the Japanese public generally supports whaling missions, as a way to oppose activists, who they feels are disregarding their culture, the majority of the nation’s people do not eat whale meat, thus explaining the weak interest and sales.