One whaler took home 40 boxes of whale meat, which sells for about $220 per kilo; someone else "used the money he earned to buy a car;" one purchased a new house from illegally taken whale meat.
Even before we arrived in the Antarctic Ocean," he says of a recent expedition, "the more experienced whalers would talk about taking whale meat home to sell. It was an open secret. Even officials from the Institute of Cetacean Research [a quasi-governmental body that organises Japan's whaling programme] on the ship knew what was happening, but they turned a blind eye to it."
Kujira, who worked aboard the Nisshin Maru mother ship, saw crew members helping themselves to prime cuts of whale meat and packing them into boxes they would mark with doodles or pseudonyms so they could identify them when the vessel reached port. "They never wrote their real names on the boxes," he said.
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The good news in all this is that Kujira says all the media attention on whaling--Greenpeace's investigation into whale meat smuggling is specifically cited--is forcing the industry has forced changes. Many younger crew members have left the fleet after the increased scrutiny halting whale meat sales, the income from which originally lured the sailors to the Antarctic.
Read the original piece for more of Kujira-san's account of the culture surrounding Japan's whaling fleet: Whistleblower aims to expose dark side of Japanese whaling
Whale meat for sale in Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo. Photo: Gideon via flickr.
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