This blog today is not a positive or a nice one. It could be seen as a clinical one or even an academic one. It all relates to a state of mind. I have been up for most of the night. Medication got me to some part (after a 16 hour sleeping spree), an uncanny feeling of anger got me the rest of the way. Now, I did not immediately write this story at that time. I learned that you should never make decisions from a place of anger. I think it could be stated that one must not write in anger either. It gives way to only emotion and even though in emotion we might write the story with pure feelings, the chance that others read it in similar fashion is slim to none at best.
The all started with the following news information: It was about the departure of the whaling vessels (at http://www.skynews.com.au/eco/article.aspx?id=931971). There were two quotes that got my attention “The three ships departed from the western port of Shimonoseki on Saturday to join other ships to hunt up to 935 Antarctic Minke whales and up to 50 fin whales up until March.” Which gave me the first thought ‘Do we still have that many whales?‘ The second quote was “Japan’s whale hunts have long drawn criticism from activists and foreign governments but Tokyo defends the practice saying eating whale is part of Japanese culinary tradition.” I will get back to the second quote later, because that is the one that got me here.
I had to look up some details on the number of whales. Apparently there were at present 800,000 remaining Minke Whales, which turned out to be a 3 year old number. I searched for many sources, yet that number seemed to be way over the top. This is a lot more then I bargained for. Yet, in the end, the numbers that are estimated are immensely lower than that. The international whaling commission estimated the number of Minke whales in 2003 for the North West Pacific and Okhotsk Sea at around 22,000. It was an estimate. We could come to the definition that the numbers seem to be way too low. So in this environment Japan wants to kill 935 for consumption, which is just over 4% of the Minke whales (going from unconfirmed numbers). Japan does not stand alone however, Norway, its brother in whaling Genocide had been active as well. There are no clear numbers, but consider what we know about people in general (the average greed driven business type), it is interesting that Japan had not been able to meet its alleged quota for some time. Even though anti-whaling is taking pride in this, I must question that. Is it truly due to the anti-whalers, or have the number of whales declined even further.
This brings us to an additional number. If those numbers are a lot more declined, then what about its favourite customer, the Orca? The Minke whale is a delight to the taste buds of the Orca, and if they go hungry, then what? The Orca is already endangered. We can see that Hawaii reported an estimated 349 Killer Whales (Orca’s) at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/pdf/po2012_summary.pdf. There is no way to tell how accurate these numbers are and the area these numbers encompass; unlike Homo sapiens, the fish do not rely on Visa and Passport restrictions to get around, there simply seems to be no way to tell! So back to the Minke Whales. No matter how I twist or turn this, there are no accurate numbers, and there is no way to truly tell. Whether the IWC is intentional in keeping the light away is not a given. It seems to me that the IWC is about longevity of the ‘trade’ and fishing into non-existence is detrimental to their health.
Now we get to the second part, which might turn a little ugly (not intentionally though). The quote “Tokyo defends the practice saying eating whale is part of Japanese culinary tradition” got to me. Now, I am all for culinary traditions and we all have them. I have never eaten whale! Not intentionally, I will admit. I do love seafood and as such there is some curiosity to the eating of whale. The issue I have is with the numbers. You see, whatever tradition you want to keep is fine with me, but when we see the dwindling number of Whales and if we accept that Whaling quotas were not kept, not because they were unwilling to do so, but more likely that they are unable to meet them gives way to the thought that the number of whales have diminished even further then some report. So whatever we see here in regards to the Japanese might also apply to the Norwegians.
So, to preserve and increase the number of whales we can go two ways. We either stop whaling altogether, which apparently the Japanese are unwilling to do, or we decimate (read cull) the Japanese population.
Got your attention now, don’t I?
You see, the Japanese population DOUBLED from 1930 to now. Japan has housing and feeding issues, so why not cull the herd of the Rising Sun? I have no hatred for Japan or the Japanese, so do not see this as a voice of hatred in any way. Consider the ‘neatness’ of the solution. If there is 50% less to feed, then there is 50% less need for whale meat, which should put a nice dent into that requirement. Perhaps, to give the whale a little time to get their numbers back up, a Japanese culling of 60%-73% might be called for.
Is that over the top? You see, that is the crux of it all. Japan has been a proud fishing nation since before the 16th Century. As a person born in the Netherlands, it is something that I have in common with them. The Dutch also has had their issues with Fish. As technology advanced, so did the fishing industry and in the old days ‘Botters’ (as they were called) had two engines with no more than 50 horse power each (which was quite powerful vessels in the 1930’s). In the 1970’s I did some of my work on Kotters, which had between 250-295 horsepower (less powerful then Trawlers). In this industry the reality goes that the bigger the engine, the more you can fish. Even in those days it had become imperative to limit fishing, so that both fish and the fish industry could endure. Even in those days, the Asian super fishers were an issue. With their engines being in excess of several thousand horses. Not only were they a lot larger for just the fishing, but they would also process and can the fish on some of these. That was 30 years ago. Whaling had evolved in similar way. No longer did they go out with hand thrown spears in small rowing boats. No, today these boats have a military style of artillery that shoots out a spear with a rope. It might seem more humane, but as whalers would work 2-3 days to process one whale, nowadays these large ships could process a whale in a mere 3-6 hours, which means that the number of whales processed increase dramatically. This is also part of the conundrum we seem to face.
Let us consider the BBC article on whaling which was published in March 2012 (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17312460), we get quite a different view. The Japanese fishing fleet had only been able to achieve a THIRD of their quota. Now, I am willing to give praise to the anti-whaling groups, but in honesty, I do not think that this is entirely correct. Make no mistake; the anti-whaling group seems to have an impact. However, the fact that they stopped 2/3rd of the quota seems a bit much. This is where it becomes an issue! Consider that these ships are really expensive. They need to make above a certain number to do better than break even. They have the most modern of electronic fishing equipment and as such, they have an advantage on the old fleets. Yet, they catch less and less. This is part of the foundation where I state that whaling numbers are a lot lower then certain parties claim them to be. I also will admit that I could be wrong. Yet, consider the facts. Modern fishing fleet, electronic equipment to sniff the whales out and they catch ZIP! Over the same large parts of the ocean they stumble upon less and less whales. Could I be right?
So what are the numbers and how many eat them? That is in the actual bottom line. Feeding 120 million Japanese with fish is a fish population draining exercise, but to what extent? This takes me (and perhaps several readers) back to the ‘conspiracy theory days’ of the late 70’s where we heard the noises that we were running out of food and soon we would all go hungry, which always made for a real good rerun of the movie Soylent Green (a legendary movie with Charlton Heston). At that time we had just passed a population total of 5 billion and 2% of that population lived in Japan. Now the global population is 50% larger and this issue has brings about an interesting part. Even though Whaling brought them in the ‘lime light’, the overall need to feed a population is getting an increased amount of visibility. Consider the story from Matthew 14:13-21 where a population was fed on 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Now consider that we feel a need to feed not just us but the hungry too. How much fish do we need to feed 7 billion people? I feel certain that 5 loaves of bread and two fish will NOT cut it. Even though many do not just live of fish, the validity of it remains, how many Minke whales are left and how can we prevent that these species, as well as other whale species become extinct?