Documents obtained by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) revealed that a Norwegian whaling company has sought to ship about 10 metric tonnes of minke whale meat to Iceland, and Iceland’s most prominent whaler stands to directly benefit from the deal.
According to a statement posted by the AWI, the Norwegian whaling company Lofothval has sought permission to ship the minke whale meat to Iceland only weeks after the United States criticised Norway over whaling at the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission.
Norwegian whalers killed 731 minke whales in 2014, more than in any year since the country resumed commercial whaling in 1993, and the hunt yielded a record 871 metric tons of whale meat. However, domestic sales of whale meat have struggled in recent years, as government- and industry-subsidized whale meat marketing programs look to increase local demand. Norwegian whalers therefore endorse increased exports, claiming that international trade in whale meat is needed to help ensure the survival of the industry.
Kristján Loftsson, managing director of the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf, also happens to be a shareholder in Lofothval.
News of the shipment comes in the wake of recent news that Iceland’s minke whale stocks are so low that there will most likely be a shortage of the meat this winter. While only 3% of Icelanders eat whale regularly, minke whale meat remains popular enough amongst tourists to precipitate a shortage in Iceland’s shops and restaurants.
“Norway has systematically increased its cruel slaughter of whales in recent years,” AWI executive director Susan Millward said. “The United States recently imposed diplomatic measures against Iceland for its whaling and trade in whale products, and we believe that these same penalties should be imposed on Norway. We call on the United States and other governments to act decisively to bring international trade in whale products to an immediate halt.”