Japan’s whaling research body has failed to sell the bulk of meat harvested from its last round of what it calls research whaling, despite inviting bids months ago. A report released by Japan’s Dolphin and Whale Action Network reveals there have been 13 rounds of public auctions for the whale meat, but 900 tonnes of the meat has failed to sell. That’s three-quarters of all the meat harvested from the last round of so-called scientific research whaling in the north-west Pacific.
Since the International Whaling Commission’s - IWC – moratorium on commercial whaling went into effect in 1986 Japan has continued to hunt whales using the scientific research provision in the agreement. Japans whale hunts are a source of conflict between pro and anti-whaling countries and organizations. Nations, scientists and environmental organizations opposed to whaling consider the Japanese research program to be unnecessary at best and a thinly disguised commercial whaling operation at worst.
Japanese whaling is currently conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research. The meat from these scientific whale hunts is then sold in shops and restaurants. This is allowed under IWC rules, although most IWC members oppose it. The meat sales are supposed to help cover the cost of the whaling fleet. Japanese taxpayers have been subsidising the fleet for years because few people eat the meat.