Whale burgers

This is a whale burger:


This is a pretty young woman eating a whale burger:

girl with whaleburger

I learned this morning that Japan's whaling fleet is on its way to Antarctica to catch almost 1000 whales "for scientific purposes." Why are they doing it?

Whaling boats have been setting out from Japan for 1000 years. "Passive whaling" - the butchering of dead or stranded whales - has taken place in Japan since prehistoric times. After World War II, there was a severe shortage of food in Japan. Meat harvested by the whaling fleet was a big help in alleviating the famine. In the 1950s, two factors: rise of a stable livestock industry, and: modernization led to a tapering off of the market for whale meat. By the 1960s the government of Japan had a surplus of whale meat on its hands, and so whale meat became a regular part of school lunches for a generation.

Most Japanese people have not eaten whale meat since childhood. A small, vocal group of people feel that eating whale is a crucial part of Japanese culture and must be carried into the future. But their website is strangely lacking in cultural context and human history - the history page details the rise of whaling technology - "Claws (tail fin pinchers) appears" - but says nothing about the cultural importance of whale consumption, which is the stated issue:

[Since most of the world is in agreement, why doesn't Japan just stop?] We cannot agree with this view. Asking Japan to abandon this part of its culture
would compare to Australians being asked to stop eating meat pies, Americans
being asked to stop eating hamburgers and the English being asked to go without
fish and chips.

Attitudes toward animals are a part of national cultures. No
nations should try to impose their attitudes on others.

(from http://www.whaling.jp/english/qa.html)

The moratorium on whaling came through in 1986, when it was agreed that there was not enough information about whale populations and limiting factors to allow for any harvesting - the resource could not be managed without better information. There was a loophole for the taking of whales for scientific purposes, and a handful of countries have taken full advantage of the loophole. Japan has taken around 450 whales each year since the moratorium took effect, and this year they are doubling that number.

Hurry, gotta teach all the teenagers to loooove whale burgers.

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