The Institute of Cetacean Research announced on November 27 that it intends to sell over 400 tons of whale meat in Japan's wholesale markets beginning November 30, 2003.
The whale meat was obtained from summer "research" whaling in the North Pacific, a practice that many foreign countries and most conservation groups consider as nothing more than commercial whaling in disguise.
The sale of the whale meat is the primary objective of the Institute for Cetacean Research and has been since the International Whaling Commission declared a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.
The Institute, a nonprofit body, is the only organization authorized by the government's Fisheries Agency to carry out research whaling and authorized to sell whale meat.
The institute will sell 1,346.2 tons of meat and byproducts from 100 minke whales, 50 Bryde's whales and 50 sei whales slaughtered this year in the Northwest Pacific.
The whalers also killed 10 sperm whales, though the distribution of this meat has yet to be confirmed amid ongoing tests on whether it contains polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or mercury, an Institute spokesman said.
Of the 1,346.2 tons of meat in question, 327.5 tons will go to local governments for consumption at public institutions such as schools, while 425.7 tons will be sold to wholesale markets and 591.4 tons will be processed and canned for market, the Institute announced.
A kilogram of red meat from a minke whale or a Bryde's whale will be priced around 2,600 yen ($26U.S.) when the Institute sells the meat to wholesalers.
Proceeds from the sale of the whale meat from these 200 whales is estimated to be 5 billion yen or approximately 10 million U.S. dollars. This means about $50,000 per whale killed.
The institute also receives some 500 million yen (4.5 million U.S. dollars) in subsidies from the Japanese government every year.
The Institute argues that its whaling activities and the sale of meat are based on Article 8 of the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, a treaty that formed the basis of the IWC's founding and still governs the body.
This has been the loophole that has allowed Japan to profit from whale hunting under the moratorium on whaling by fraudulently killing whales in the name of scientific research.
Sea Shepherd Advisory Board member Mark Votier accompanied the Japanese whaling fleet to Antarctica in 1993. His film footage of the slaughter of whales revealed the hunt for what it is - a hunt for profits. There was little research and a great deal of butchering. According to Mark, the research consisted of one woman biologist who took an ear bone from each slain whale to determine the age of the whale.
"I was disgusted with the deceit concerning this hunt. The Japanese think they have outsmarted the anti-whaling nations by pretending that the killing of whales is about research and not profits." Said Mark Votier.
In addition to killing whales for commercial purposes, the Japanese conduct a whale hunt in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, which is an additional violation.
"Unfortunately," said Captain Paul Watson, "the member nations of the International Whaling Commission do not enforce the regulations for fear of having a trade clash with the Japanese. U.S. Department of Commerce regulations alone could force an end to Japanese whaling by embargoing Japanese fish products but the Presidents of the United States from Reagan through to Bush Jr. have consistently discriminated in favor of Japan and have refused to uphold the law to force Japan into compliance."