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Report: Japanese Whaling 'Dead in the Water' Without Millions in Subsidies

Animal watchdog reveals 'warehouses of whale meat' as demand plumets

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

A Japanese whaling fleet's mothership, the Nisshin Maru, seen from Sea Shepherd vessel the Bob Barker. (Photo: Sam Sielen/AFP/Getty)

The controversial Japanese whaling industry, which has met fierce criticism and often combative oversea confrontations, is "effectively dead in the water" without large government subsidies says a new report by animal watchdog group, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw).

Breaking the story on the uneaten 'warehouses of whale meat,' the Guardian cites a new report, to be published Tuesday, which found that—despite a dramatic drop in whale meat consumption—the Japanese government continues to siphon millions from public tax dollars to keep the industry afloat.

Whale meat consumption has reportedly fallen to about 1% of its 1960s peak, with stockpiles of unsold whale meat topping 5 million kilograms.

According the report, despite this obvious glut, the Japanese government spent at least ¥30bn ($4.8bn) on whaling between 1987 and 2012, including last year's subsidies of ¥2.28bn ($366m) which were siphoned off from money budgeted for reconstruction from the 2011 tsunami.

"With growing wealth and modernisation, the people of Japan have lost their yen for whale meat," the report says. "Yet fisheries officials and other government figures continue to siphon off millions of taxpayer yen to prop up an industry that is effectively dead in the water."

An unnamed Japanese anti-whaling activist and volunteer with ocean conservationist group Sea Shepard says that, despite the significant drop in popularity, Japanese whaling continues primarily because of "greed and bureaucracy, and also because the Japanese, like any country, don't like being told what to do by other countries."

"The fisheries agency is using international opposition to whaling to build domestic support," said Patrick Ramage, the director of Ifaw's global whale program. "But I don't think that argument is selling any better than all that whale meat now sitting in warehouses."

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