Report Reveals Financial Side of Japanese Whaling Industry

Written by on February 7, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law
A Minke whale adult and calf are dragged aboard the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling vessel.

A Minke whale adult and calf are dragged aboard the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling vessel. Photo credit: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

According to a new report, the Japanese whaling industry could not survive without huge taxpayer subsidies. The report, published by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), cites data directly from the Japanese government to build a case against whaling.

The report says that “whaling is an unprofitable business that can survive only with substantial subsidies and one that caters to an increasingly shrinking and ageing market.”

Things to know:

  • Last year, the subsidies included ¥2.28 billion from the budget for tsunami relief
  • Annual subsidies average around ¥782 million
  • The government has spent a total of ¥30 billion on whaling since 1987
  • Consumption of whale meat has fallen to about 1 percent of its peak in the 1960s
  • The amount of unsold whale mean has increased to nearly 5,000 tons–about four times more than only 15 years ago

The report calls on the Japanese government to focus on the whale-watching industry as an environmentally- and economically-friendly alternative to whaling. Unlike commercial whaling, whale-watching “will turn a profit and directly benefit coastal communities.”

The report also dismisses claims that whaling is historical and cultural, saying that they are “profoundly and increasingly untrue.”

“With growing wealth and modernisation, the people of Japan have lost their yen for whale meat,” it 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.”

“Now is the time for each of us to do what we can to encourage the good people of Japan and their government to…join the emerging global consensus for whale conservation instead of commercial whaling in the 21st Century,” said Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s Whale Programme Director.

Fin whale.

Fin whale. Photo credit: NOAA.

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Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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