Ports urged to reject attempts to use UK as route for the bloody trade in whale meat

Tuesday, 2 July, 2013
London, UK

UK ports are being urged to take a stand against whaling amid speculation they could be targeted as a transport route for meat from whales slaughtered in Iceland or Norway.

Meat from the bloody whaling industry could potentially pass through several UK ports on its way to Japan where much of it ends up in storage or sold cheaply for products such as dog food.

Rotterdam, until recently used by Icelandic company Samskip as a stopover on the grim cargo’s journey, has now called a halt to the passage of whale meat through its port after more than one million people signed an online petition condemning the trade.

Samskip, which indicated it is now looking at other routes, already has vessels sailing into the UK ports of Hull, Tilbury, Grangemouth and Immingham. The company offers additional cargo services in Ipswich, Avonmouth, Belfast and Grimsby. Samskip could have these ports in mind for its whale meat trade. Shipments could also be sent using other carriers with which Samskip collaborates.

Whale meat from Norway is already known to have entered the UK. A small export of whale meat from Norway to the UK in 2008 was confirmed by the Norwegian Statistical Bureau (SSB). Norwegian whale meat also passed through Southampton port on its way to Japan in March this year. Samskip is implicated in that shipment as well, as the whale meat was stored in the Samskip-owned Frigocare facility in Alesund, Norway prior to being shipped to Tokyo.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is calling on all UK ports to follow Rotterdam’s example and ensure no whale meat trade involving our ports.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Whaling is cruel and unnecessary and I believe the majority of the British public will be shocked and disgusted to learn that our ports could in any way be linked to this. IFAW calls on all UK ports to act now to ensure they do not help facilitate the repugnant trade in whale meat.”

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: “As a leader in global efforts to protect whales, the UK should be the last country giving safe harbour to the whale meat trade.”

One man in Iceland, Kristjan Loftsson, is responsible for Iceland’s continued harpooning of endangered fin whales and minke whales for commercial reasons. With a limited domestic and tourism market for minke whales and no domestic market for fin whales, Loftsson regularly exports relatively small amounts of fin whale meat to his own company in Japan, but has yet to find great demand for the meat on the Japanese market.

So far this season, whalers in Iceland have slaughtered around 20 fin whales and 20 minke whales.

In contrast to the dying whaling industry, Iceland is one of Europe’s top destinations for whale watching and last year attracted 175,000 whale watchers.

Norway also trains its harpoons on minke whales for commercial reasons, with an annual self-allocated quota or more than 1,000 whales, usually taking about 50% of this.

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