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2011-08-30

Minutes of the 2nd Meeting of the Committee on Special Permit Research Whaling ≪4/5≫

○Tanigawa -
  The whaling quota is 935, so even if we were not able to take 100% we could get by with 80-90% of the quota, but when, like this year, the season is cut short and only 170 whales are caught, there is going to be a shortfall, and there will not be enough funds to pay the ICR or Kyodo Senpaku staff or the charter fees. How are you going to deal with this?

○Miyahara
That is the problem we have to deal with.

○Tanigawa -
   So, the Minister ordered the termination without considering the consequences.

○Miyahara -
   How to make up the deficit is something we will be working on, taking today’s discussion into account.

○Tanigawa -
   We are not talking about the future losses here. Will a compensation plan for the losses resulting from the fact only 170 whales were caught this year be decided by the result of today’s meeting?
Do you mean that (leaving, for the moment, the future, and concentrating on the immediate problem this season, which has ended with a catch of a mere 170 whales) the results of this meeting will decide how the deficit is met?

○Miyahara -
The results of this meeting will not directly affect the decision, but today’s discussions will be used to make a timely decision on the possibility of supplementary budgets.

○Tanigawa -
  In which month will the supplementary budgets be prepared?

○Miyahara -
  I cannot say for certain because it depends on the Diet [national assembly] schedule, but according to yesterday's newspaper, it could be at the end of August [2011].

○Akimichi -
  Price and demand were mentioned earlier. I feel this “low catch = high prices = low consumer demand” way of thinking is too passive. It may follow economic theory but, you need more vision. For example, the whaling industry has declined since the whaling moratorium. There’s nothing wrong with a “Let’s eat more whalemeat” campaign, but I think we need a more drastic government effort to help boost the industry. Whalemeat consumption should be promoted far more. This is an opinion, not a question.
There are the wholesalers, the major food retail chains, the food chains that account for 80% of whalemeat sales. [sic] And the various consumer regions – Kushiro, Hakodate, Sendai, Nagasaki and Osaka – are all different. I think you should be making a more detailed analysis, (or perhaps you have data already) to work on more-finely tuned sales promotion, and would like to hear about it, perhaps on another occasion.

○Miyahara -
We plan to invite sales-related parties to the meeting after next and will have some materials ready by then.
○Tanigawa -
Returning to whalemeat stocks: Mr Nomura mentioned the problem of bundling whale statistics with Baird's and dolphins.
I also hear that minke from the Antarctic Ocean remains in stock. In fact, there are different kinds of whalemeat, white and red; and the (white) skin [=blubber] has sold well and is out of stock, while red meat has not sold well and is piling up.
I’m not complaining about stopping the whale research program at 170 whales, but if a certain number of whales were caught, and if the [blubber] were sold at suitable prices, the expenses of ICR and Kyodo Senpaku could be covered, even if the red meat remained unsold. Therefore, whalemeat should not be treated as one item, but, because there are a variety of trade routes and prices for different parts,….. we shouldn’t forget how well the [blubber] is selling! [sic]
○Nomura -
Regarding the 1:8:1 ratio on page 6, Mr Hanafusa suggested that the open market portion has decreased. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the ratio has always been the same.
As I understand it, from the very start, the idea was to keep special permit whalemeat OFF the open market for fear that prices would skyrocket. High prices would mean that the people/places which absolutely depend on whalemeat would not get it, so it was kept off the open market to avoid the pressures of supply and demand. Whether this was appropriate or not, the reason for the current ratio, as I see it, is not that the open market dealers don’t want it or that environmental action groups have made trade more difficult, but because it was deliberately kept off the open market. Whether or not it would be advisable or possible to change this ratio is something I’d like to hear your thoughts on.
○Hanafusa-
As Mr Nomura says, it is true that the original supply was small. Initial catches were around 300. At that time, there was certainly not enough to satisfy the open market; so, to keep a fair balance, most trade was off-market; but there was a little open market activity, I think. Nowadays, there is no allocation by prefecture or location as there was in former days.
○Nomura -
The ratio has been fixed for a long time, hasn’t it?
○Hanafusa -
The ratio is not fixed.
○Nomura -
Are open market sales decreasing?
○Hanafusa -
Yes, they are.
○Mr. Nomura -
Does this mean that the open market has no demand for whalemeat any longer?
○Hanafusa -
I am not sure of the whole truth though I have heard from a variety of people, but I hear of people who handle whalemeat retiring, and the younger or inexperienced people who replace them do not know how to handle whalemeat. And since the quantities involved are small, the effort required to learn how to handle whalemeat will not improve their performance figures, and so the trade in whalemeat has declined.
I have also heard from parent companies who, due to the pressure from environmental protection groups, have been reluctant to handle whalemeat.

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