Japan’s whaling industry appears to be struggling to stay in business due to cutbacks in government subsidies and younger Japanese turning their backs on what was once a staple food. The industry has faced condemnation for using a loophole in International Whaling Commission rules that allowed it to hunt the marine mammals under the guise of scientific research.
But without subsidies, Kyodo Senpaku Co., the only offshore whaling company in Japan, has recently been selling whale meat below the break-even cost. “Even the Japan Fisheries Agency has now abandoned any pretense that commercial whaling can be profitable,” said Patrick Ramage, head of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Bird Flu Victims
The avian influenza outbreak that has ravaged poultry and wild birds around the world this year now seems to be killing seals along Canada’s St. Lawrence River. At least 15 of the 100 marine mammals found dead along the waterway since January have tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of the virus.
Stéphane Lair of the University of Montreal says the seals most likely contracted the virus from infected eider ducks, with which they share the same islands to give birth at the beginning of summer. A spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada says these are the first cases of the virus being passed from wild birds to marine mammals ever reported in Quebec.