[Joint Statement] Strong Concerns Over the Import of Meat of Rare Fin Whales from Iceland

August 28th, 2015
Dolphin & Whale (Iruka & Kujira) Action Network
Greenpeace Japan

 A ship called WINTER BAY is to dock at Osaka Port on August 30th, bringing 1815 tons of fin whale meat from Iceland according to the port’s online data. This load is comprised of all the 137 whales caught in Iceland last year.

 Fin whale is categorized as Endangered and on the Red List by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). It is also listed in Annex I in Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) that commercial trade of its meat is prohibited.

 Regardless, Iceland, which has no custom of eating the meat, continues to catch fin whales to sell to Japan, and the nations continue to trade by putting a reservation on the resolution.

 It should also be noted that, for the first time, the ship is using the route through the Arctic Ocean to come to Japan, instead of the conventional routes through Africa due to some member countries of CITES not granting docking permits in protest to the fin whale meat trade. If Japan continues the import, there is a possibility that the Arctic sea lane may become of their regular use. The Arctic Ocean is now accessible due to the effects of climate change, but the sea lane itself is still under development. If something happens, not only does it risk the lives of the crew but also affects the fragile Arctic ecosystem.

 Meanwhile, due to the ostensible reason that “the government cancelled Antarctic research whaling,” the stock has dropped down by half. *1 (In fact, the catch number was being drastically reduced prior to the cancellation.) So now, NHK reported that in order to avoid “the possibility of a shortage of whale meat, the company [Kyodo Senpaku] has decided to import whale meat.*2” With the import, half of the domestic whale meat supply is from Iceland, highlighting that the meat trade is an important objective of research whaling.

 For these aforementioned reasons, we strongly oppose the import of fin whale meat, and demand the following:

    1. Withdraw the reservation on fin whale trade in CITES and stop trading rare whale species.
    2. Refrain from navigating through the Arctic Ocean out of concerns for the lives of the crew and affecting the fragile Arctic ecosystem.
    3. Selling imported whale meat is not Japanese traditional culture. Stop the “food culture” campaign.
    4. Stop research whaling, which main objective is the whale meat trade.
*1  Source: “Whale meat supply and the market distribution stock.”
*2  Source: NHK “Shortage of whale meat due to research whaling cancellation – Company launches high volume whale meat import.” May 23rd, 2013