Protests over Iceland whale meat shipment to Japan

Iceland slammed by environmentalists for exporting whale meat to Japan

Photo by: Public Domain
Photo by: Public Domain

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Environmentalists have expressed their outrage over a 1,700-tonne shipment of whale which is due to be delivered to Japan by an Iceland-based whaling company.

The Hvalur HF company has announced it will export the fin whale meat to Japan via Angola, following a similar shipment of 2,000 tonnes last year.

Icelandic daily newspaper Eyjan reported the whale meat was loaded on to the Winter Bay vessel near Reykjavik two weeks ago but its departure was delayed due to a mechanical failure.

Protests are expected to erupt along the ship’s route, as they did last year, as environmentalists argue the shipment defies a hunting ban by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which was introduced in 1986.

"This is an animal welfare issue. There is no humane way to kill animals of that size... there is no need for this meat and certainly no need for Iceland's economy or fisheries industry to have this," Iceland spokesman at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Sigursteinn Masson told AFP.

"This is a shipment that faces strong international opposition... Commercial whaling is a very isolated business -- we want to see the end of it, as does most of the world."

However, Hvalur HF chief executive Kristjan Loftsson insisted the shipment was "not illegal" as "Iceland made a reservation on the ban so it is not bound by it."

Iceland, along with fellow Scandinavian country Norway, are the only countries that do not abide by the ban on whale hunting, despite calls by the European Union, the US and other countries last September of Iceland to stop hunting whales.

According to statistics provided by anti-whaling group WDC, 137 fin whales and 24 minkes were killed by Icelandic whalers in 2014, while 134 fin whales and 35 minkes were killed in 2013.

Japan, meanwhile, imports the whale meat under the guise of doing so for scientific research purposes, but the meat is actually consumed as a food product, AFP reported.

TRTWorld and agencies