Greeting Whales, Not Eating Them

In May a consortium of four environmental groups sent out a press release concerning pet-food manufacturer Michinoku Farms, demanding a stop to the company’s production of dog treats made from dried fin whales of Icelandic origin.

The consortium it’s conformed for the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), the Whale and Dolphin Conservation and the Japanese whale and dolphin conservation organization IKAN. The treats had appeared on the company’s website earlier this year.

The publicity worked. Michinoku director Takumo Konno announced within hours that the dog treats would be withdrawn from sale, as although they were legal in Japan he did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Earlier in May, a coalition of American animal welfare and conservation groups, including the AWI and EIA, called on the Obama Administration to impose economic sanctions against Iceland because Iceland had resumed whaling.

Previously, in September 2011 at the end of Iceland’s last whaling season for fin whales and at the instigation of 19 American NGOs, Obama decided to impose diplomatic sanctions against Iceland because of the country’s whale-hunting activities. But the groups say that stronger measures are now necessary.

As yet, trade sanctions have not been imposed.

Anti-whaling pressure has also been mounting within Iceland. Two women, who happen to be granddaughters of one of the founding members of the whaling company Hvalur and who now sit on the board of the company, have publicly spoken out against Hvalur’s whaling activities.

Blue Channel 24 Greeting Whales, Not Eating Them

At the company’s annual general meeting on Jun. 1, one of the women, Audur Kristin Arnadottir, called for the company to be split into two, as the whaling section did not pay because of international restrictions on whale meat.

Arnadottir’s proposal was an amendment to a proposal by another shareholder to disband the Hvalur company completely. Although neither proposal was passed, it seems there is some degree of dissent within the company.

According to the Iruka & Kujira Action Network (IKAN), Icelandic whale meat constituted 26 percent of the market in Japan in 2012 and is sold at a bargain price.

Kristjan Loftsson, owner of Hvalur and the main protagonist behind its whaling activities, had previously attributed the suspension of whaling for two years to a decline in whale meat sales, caused by a change in Japanese eating patterns after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Hunters of minke whales are also facing opposition within Iceland. On his last day in office a month ago, outgoing minister of industry Steingrimur J. Sigfusson extended the sanctuary area of Faxafloi Bay (near Reykjavik) in which minke whaling is not allowed.

This means that minke whalers have lost 80 percent of their main hunting area, so are resorting to other areas as well.

Source: Lowana Veal | IPS News