Washington DC-based Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has just sent out a press release saying that Iceland is now sending whale meat and blubber to Japan via Norway. From there, it is re-exported to Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd, a company heavily involved in Japan’s highly controversial “scientific whaling” program currently underway in the Antarctic Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
According to the press release, Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha announced last month that that it would begin imports of Norwegian whale meat in 2014, stating that it needed to import and sell whale meat “in order to help subsidize future Japanese scientific whaling efforts.” That same month, Lofothval, a whaling firm based in Reine in Norway’s Lofoten Islands, received two permits from Norway’s Environment Agency to send whale products to Japan. One shipment of 5,000 kg is identified as whale meat only from Lofothval, while a second shipment is identified as a re-export of 5,000 kg of Icelandic minke whale meat and blubber.
A second Norwegian company, Myklebust Trading AS, has sought government permission to ship up to 34,381 kg of minke whale products to the Toshi International company in Japan. This would be the second such shipment from Myklebust to Toshi International in the past year. In addition, Norwegian import statistics show that 14.1 tonnes of whale meat were imported from Iceland into Norway in February 2013.
Meanwhile, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society have also been in the Icelandic media today as they were protesting about the proposed use of whale meal in Icelandic beer. Yes, beer. The whale meal comes from the company Hvalur, who hunt fin whales. The owner of Stedji brewery, Dagbjartur Areliusson, says that it is a healthy option “because whale meal is full of protein and is very low fat, while the drink has no added sugar”. Hmm. I don’t think much of that excuse. The drink will only be sold during the month of Thorri, from January 24 to February 20, when Icelanders traditionally partake in Thorrablot feasts consisting of singed sheep’s heads and other disgusting edibles of a similar ilk. Which can now be washed down with whale beer.
I have already written many articles on the whaling issue for Inter Press Service and have also blogged on the subject quite frequently. Anyone else want an article on the subject?
Note: The West Iceland Health and Safety Authority banned (January 13) the use of whale meal in the beer as it comes from whale bones and Hvalur doesn’t have a licence to produce whale meal for the food industry.
But today (January 24) Iceland’s “environment minister”, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, decided to allow the beer to be sold anyway.