From Iceland — EIA Urges Halt To Fin Whale Meat Sale

EIA Urges Halt To Fin Whale Meat Sale

Published October 18, 2011

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), confirming more meat from endangered fin whales has been exported from Iceland to Japan, have called upon global retailer Yahoo! to prohibit the sale of the meat.
The full statement from the EIA reads as follows:

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) today confirmed that a further 131 tonnes of Icelandic fin whale has been shipped to Japan and renewed its call for global retailer Yahoo! to immediately prohibit the sale of the endangered species via Yahoo! Japan.

The latest shipment brings the total of fin whale exported to Japan since Iceland resumed commercial whaling to more than 1,500 tonnes, despite the CITES Appendix 1 listing of fin whales clearly prohibiting international trade

In July, the EIA report Renegade Whaling identified Icelandic company Hvalur and its multi-millionaire boss Kristján Loftsson as hunting fin whales for export to Japan via a company he helped to set up.

But despite Iceland being certified under the US Pelly Amendment later that same month, it has now been confirmed that in August a new export to Japan took place of 131 tonnes of fin whale product with an estimated value of 209 million Icelandic króna ($1.7 million).

On September 15, US President Barack Obama stated that Iceland’s whaling and trade in the meat threatens the conservation status of an endangered species and undermines multilateral efforts to ensure greater worldwide protection for whales. Stopping short of targeted trade sanctions, he nevertheless announced diplomatic measures aiming to push Iceland to halt the trade.

Yahoo Japan! sells numerous Icelandic fin whale products, including large (1.5kg) blocks of meat, bacon (blubber) and canned products. As of September 2011, these products and many more were still available on the internet from Yahoo! Japan shopping sites; a survey by EIA found 10 different retailers offering Icelandic fin whale meat products for sale via Yahoo! Japan.

“At a time when the US Government is applying international pressure to force an end to Iceland’s whaling and international trade, Yahoo! Japan is effectively encouraging further hunting of the species by selling endangered fin whale meat products on its website,” said EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry.

“It’s long past due that Yahoo! put its house in order and stopped profiting from, and stimulating, this bloody and wholly unnecessary slaughter.”

EIA first called on Yahoo! Japan in April 2010 to ban all sales of whale, dolphin and porpoise products on its store and auction websites after discovering that many products contained high levels of the neurotoxin mercury.

UK IFAW Director Rob Marsland confirmed for Grapevine many of the same ideas, while also questioning the economic feasibility of the trade in the first place:

When fin whaling started, the waters muddied even more. “We were perplexed, because in 2008, the amount of fin whale meat being eaten in Japan was in decline, there is no fin whale meat being eaten in Iceland, and yet here’s [Kristján] Loftsson [the head of Iceland’s sole whaling company] saying he’s going to make lots of money. So it was confusing to us.”

How does he do it? Essentially, it works like this: every few months, Kristján sends fin whale meat to Japan, where it sits in customs for 3 months while undergoing toxicity tests. Then it is sold to a company that Kristján himself owns. “I don’t use the word ‘exporting’ for what he does with the whale meat,” Rob says. “I call it ‘transferring’.”

The EIA’s full report on Iceland’s fin whale trade can be read here.

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