Katsutoshi Mihara is the speaker of the Taiji municipal assembly. He was elected to the assembly in 1973. Mihara heads the town's liaison council for opposing a total whaling ban by the IWC. Katsutoshi Mihara wrote the following article for the Asahi Shimbun in which he defends Japan's policy of both opening up coastal whaling operations and continuing the slaughter of the whales of the Southern Ocean.

The idea that increased whaling operations will provide a sustainable and inexpensive source for meat protein in Japan is delusional. Whales are a diminished resource and will not recover any time soon to levels that the Japanese desire for profit and increased consumption.

Japan's approach to whaling is the same as it is for tuna. Maximum exploitation for short term returns. It is the economics of extinction. As a species' numbers are diminished, the price of the meat is increased. Scarcity translates into increased profits. Extinction translates into holding a monopoly on a product no longer obtainable and this allows for even larger profits.

The desire for an increased number of whales killed is ecological madness and only makes sense in cold ruthless economic terms where diminishment is a bonus. A percentage of the profits of a resource driven to extinction can then be diverted into exploiting another diminished species.

In this way, the exploitation of a species is finally ended by commercial or biological extinction by a continuation of lethal exploitation upon another species.

It is the maximization of profits in the short term at the expense of the conservation of a resource in the long term. This is destructive to the interests of future generations but it serves the interests of the present by accruing wealth for individuals now at the expense of impoverishment of future interests.

Mihara is of the school that believes in robbing the future to profit the present.   

Mihara finishes his article by saying; "I only wish anti-whaling activists would listen to what we, and people in other countries that rely heavily on seafood for protein, have to say."

My answer to that is we do listen but we disagree. The laws of ecology dictate that there are limits to carrying capacity and limits to growth. Worldwide heavy gear fishing and whaling practises plus industrial pollution are killing life in our oceans. There simply is not enough fish in the sea and whales in the ocean to continue to sustain this increasing level of consumption. We are killing the seas - literally!

I was raised in an Eastern Canadian fishing village. I grew up on a diet of lobster, scallops, flounders, smelts, capelin, cod, clams, redfish, salmon, and trout. But I cannot in good conscience continue to eat these diminished species. That is why I have elected to become vegetarian. Not for ethical animal rights reasons, but for ecological reasons.

The small fishermen of my youth have been replaced by huge industrial machines that are scouring the oceans of life. The fish do not have a chance, and now Japan and Norway are targeting plankton as a cheap protein source for animal feed. Some 40% of the fish taken from the sea is fed to chickens, pigs, and other fish.

I have seen the diminishment and the decrease in sizes of the once much bigger cod, halibut, lobsters, and other species. I have seen the collapse of the cod fishery and the death of salmon streams. I have lived through the assault upon our oceans by the legions of fleets funded by government subsidies and cheap loans that send one hundred million dollar draggers to sea to loot and destroy everything they sail over.

Yes Mr. Mihara, we have listened to you and the people like you lie to us for years about how the seas are sustainable and the corporations are ethical and responsible and we have witnessed the steady diminishment that has darkened the seas with a shroud of lifelessness.

Whaling has no place in the 21st Century Mr. Mihara, not by Japan or Norway or by anyone else. It's time to let the seas rehabilitate themselves, it is time to give all these species a chance to survive and it is time for humanity to end this greedy insanity that will kill our oceans, because if the seas die, we all die, and that Mr. Mihara is more important than the preservation of your whaling culture.   

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Source (25 Sept 10): http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201009220459.html


POINT OF VIEW/ Katsutoshi Mihara: Japan needs both coastal and deep-sea whaling

SPECIAL TO THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

2010/09/23

In the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, whaling has been a core local industry for some four centuries. Local whalers continue to catch small pilot and other whales that are not subject to the regulations of the International Whaling Commission.

Traditionally, small whaling vessels from Taiji also went after slightly larger minke whales in the Pacific Ocean off the Sanriku coast in northeastern Japan. It was whalers from Taiji who laid the foundations of small coastal whaling operations based in Ayukawahama, a port in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture. Ayukawahama became a well-known whaling base. Using their own vessels to catch minke whales is a shared desire of everyone engaged in coastal whaling.

Together with Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, I attended the IWC's annual meeting in Morocco in June. It was my fifth time to attend an IWC meeting. For me, the highlight of the Morocco gathering was the IWC chairman's proposal to allow "commercial whaling" of minke whales in waters off Japan. I am sure the proposal raised the hopes of many small coastal whalers.

But upon my arrival in Morocco, I was tipped off by a Japanese government source that the IWC was considering giving the proposal a cooling-off period. The information proved correct, and the proposal was shelved.

Unlike pilot whales we are still catching today, Antarctic minke whales are subject to IWC regulations. They may be caught only for purposes of scientific research.

Some people may argue that we should prioritize resumption of coastal commercial whaling and should not bother about Antarctic minke whales.

But my thinking is different. While coastal whaling is the mainstay of Japanese whaling, we also need to keep up Antarctic and other deep-sea whaling operations in order to scientifically grasp the volume of the world's whale resources.

The continuation of both coastal whaling and deep-sea whaling enables us to utilize marine resources efficiently as food for the world's growing population.

Conducting scientific research, as provided for by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, is a necessary condition for the management and efficient utilization of marine resources. The discontinuation of such research is undesirable for two reasons.

One is that it will result in a long-term decline in whale meat consumption.

In the heyday of deep-sea whaling, whale meat was so plentiful that it was a popular school lunch item in Japan. Today, the meat of whales caught for research is sold around the nation, but the supply is limited and the price is high, which has not helped consumption to recover.

Any further decline in supply will kill our nation's whaling tradition and endanger the dietary culture of eating whale meat.

Another reason is that even if coastal whaling is preserved, this still won't prevent the Japanese whaling industry from being fragmented into small-scale regional operations.

Although Taiji was singled out for attack by the U.S. documentary film "The Cove," there are also other communities, such as Ayukawa and Wada in Chiba Prefecture, that still practice traditional whaling. Small whalers in these areas are in danger of being crushed by anti-whaling activists. I believe their best chance of survival lies in the continuation of both coastal whaling and deep-sea whaling by the entire Japanese whaling industry.

When coastal whaling is revitalized and the supply of minke whale and pilot whale meat becomes stable, fresh, inexpensive whale meat will be available in many parts of the country in addition to whaling towns. And this, in turn, will help whalers survive. Whale meat is lean, rich in protein and delicious. I want as many people as possible to enjoy it.

There was a time when more than 200 Taiji whalers set sail for Antarctic whaling grounds. Today, the town has two small whalers in operation, and some residents sail the seas as crew members of research whaling vessels. Whaling is still a way of life in Taiji.

I only wish anti-whaling activists would listen to what we, and people in other countries that rely heavily on seafood for protein, have to say.

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