DNA tests provide evidence of illegal whale hunting

Since 1995, periodic IFAW research has revealed strong evidence that Japan and Korea have engaged in the illegal killing and sale of meat from endangered whales.
DNA analysis of sample whale meat for sale enabled us to identify the species and geographic origins of each sample. Amongst our samples we discovered:

  • Humpback whales, which have been protected since 1966. The humpback whale meat found in today's markets could not possibly go back to this date.
  • Fin whale meat is imported from Iceland. Some fin whale meat was stockpiled by Japan and Korea, but the amount available in their markets today is much greater than one would expect.
  • Bryde and orca whale meat, even though bryde whales were protected from 1987-2000, and orca whales have been continuously protected since 1997.
  • Sei whales, which have not been hunted in the southern hemisphere since 1979.

Creating a loophole for a loophole…

After IFAW's whaling research was made public in 1995, Japan moved to legalise the sale of 'incidental catch', when a whale is 'accidentally' caught by a Japanese fisherman in his nets.

By approving this loophole, IWC essentially sanctioned the sale of protected whales.