Shamed whale meat rejected by ports and cargo companies is returned to Iceland

Monday, 22 July, 2013
Brussels, Belgium

Unwanted whale meat arrived back in Iceland overnight after ports and cargo companies refused to play a part in its shameful passage to Japan. As the cargo vessel Pioneer Bay approached Reykjavik harbour it was joined by two whale watching vessels with Icelandic supporters of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) on board. They carried a large banner asking “What’s the point?” of Icelandic whaling.  They also held up large placards depicting pointing hands.

Lone whaler Kristjan Loftsson resumed the cruel practice of harpooning endangered fin whales in Iceland in June after a three-year hiatus and soon after, meat from the slaughtered whales was packaged in containers and beginning its long and expensive journey to Japan, its only possible, albeit very limited, marketplace.

When a whaling boat brought ashore the first slaughtered fin whale of the season in Iceland last month, it was met by protesters from both home and abroad, disgusted that whales are being killed for products such as dog food.

Opposition grew with the Port of Rotterdam declaring it wanted no part in the whale meat trade after containers from Icelandic cargo company Samskip were found to include whale meat while transiting the port. More than one million people recently signed a petition against the trade in whale meat and Samskip has since issued a statement declaring it wants no part in the whale meat business.

The meat provoked a similar response at Hamburg Port where the cargo was removed and examined. Transport company Evergreen Line declined to take the containers on to Japan, also declaring it wanted no part in the whale meat trade and saying it had believed the cargo to be frozen fish. The containers were then sent back to Iceland.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Quite apart from the fact that there is no humane way to kill whales, we have long maintained that it is illogical to continue whaling for a dying market and in the face of huge international opposition.

“Now we hear reports from Iceland that Mr Loftsson plans to keep killing these endangered animals despite having no available means of transport. This is utterly ludicrous. It is time for the Icelandic government to look at the effect this man’s actions are having and take steps to stop him further harpooning the country’s economy and reputation.”

Iceland is one of Europe’s top destinations for whale watching and last year attracted 175,000 whale watchers. Around 50 fin whales have reportedly been caught so far this season from a quota of 154. There is also a quota for 216 minke whales.

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
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