Whale meat from Japan’s main ship used for scientific whaling, the Nisshin Maru, has now been declared halal and suitable for the country’s Muslims to eat. Apparently the company that processes the meat derived from the “scientific whaling” programme wanted to expand the potential diet of Japanese Muslims who make up a whole 0.08% of the Japanese population and, like Muslims worldwide, cannot eat pork. But as Muslims in most parts of the world get along just fine without having whale meat on their menu, I suspect the real reason for halal certification is that whale meat isn’t selling well enough and the company is trying everything possible to increase sales.
For meat to be declared halal, the throat has to be slit and the blood drained away before the animal is killed. This happens anyway with whales, but in this case to be considered halal the disinfectant water used for handwashing had to be changed so that it didn’t contain alcohol.
Will we see other ships follow this trend, for instance the Hvalur boats used for Iceland’s whaling? The whale below was brought back to the mainland on a Hvalur boat.
Clearly, some people are optimistic by nature. Iceland’s hunting of fin whales has been in the limelight as no one will transport the meat to Japan and the meat that had gone to Rotterdam and Germany has now been returned to Iceland. Nevertheless, last heard (a few days ago), 75 fin whales had already been caught this season – more than had been caught previously over a whole season.
Twenty-seven minke whales have been caught so far this summer. The Association of Minke Whale Hunters has complained that minke whales are hard to find in Faxafloi bay near Reykjavik, which has always been one of their main haunts, and so the whaling boats have gone to the north instead. Now they say they have seen numerous humpback whales on their travels, and they want to start catching them as well. Sverrir Daniel Halldorsson from the Iceland’s Marine Research Institute says it would be sensible to start a five-year programme of scientific whaling of humpbacks, taking about 10 whales a year.
Iceland and Japan have practised “scientific whaling” in the past, but the meat and other whale produce was not thrown away. I guess the produce would be used within Iceland in this case, but if they want to start commercial whaling of humpbacks, there could be substantial overseas protests. But as I said to begin with, some people are optimistic by nature.