Ellingsen factory, biggest whale meat and blubber storage in Norway.
No doubt Icelanders are on the dock right now salivating,
waiting for their whale appetisers. Norway is breaking an
international ban on the export of whale products to send eight
tonnes of Minke whale meat and blubber to these eager dinners.
The Norwegian exporter Ole Mindor Myklebust says it is good to
be back on track. "This is an appetiser for the Icelanders, and I
am confident that they will like it and ask for more," he said.
But the Icelandic palate is not the problem. The trade in whale
products is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which is
designed to protect species under threat from exploitation.
Norway and Iceland don't think this international treaty applies
to them because they registered a reservation to it. But they still
show up at the CITIES meetings and support efforts to remove whale
species off the banned trading list.
Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993 and since then
stockpiles of the meat and blubber have been piling up in
warehouses in Norway, waiting for the day when they could resume
But after years of working through legal international channels
to resume their export, last year Norway announced it would export
the whale products in spite of the ban. The shipment that will
arrive in Iceland this week is the first, and only the
The real goal of Norway's whalers is export to Japan where
prices paid for whale meat are several times higher than in Norway.
Based on this year's whaling quota, the meat and blubber could
fetch over US$6 million on the Japanese market for the Norwegian
whalers. As one whaler commented to the press during last year's
whaling season "when export is reopened, who ever has a license to
whale will be sitting on a gold mine."
Besides showing a complete disregard for international treaties,
the Norwegians are endangering their Icelandic allies. Research
conducted earlier this year revealed that whale blubber stored in
Norway is unfit for human consumption. The samples of whale blubber
studied by independent scientists in Germany are contaminated with
various halogenated-organic contaminants such as PCBs, DDT and
brominated flame retardants.
If someone ate a piece of whale blubber the size of their thumb,
they would be dosing themselves many times over the advisory limits
of some of the most toxic compounds known to humans.
This is because whaling is not the only threat to whale
populations. Toxic pollutants accumulate in the fatty tissue of
blubber and scientists are increasingly concerned that a number of
these pollutants may be interfering with whales' hormone function,
reproductive success and development.
Norway's whaling and export program will further jeopardise the
worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling and whale populations.
Pirate whalers will inevitably take advantage of the cover provided
by this trade to smuggle illegal whale meat, from endangered as
well as the more abundant species of whale. If all countries
followed Norway's example with respect to CITES, we would have no
international control over trading in endangered wildlife
The Norwegian whalers have already caught 520 Minke whales
during their summer whaling season, they plan to kill 671 whales
before the end of the season ? more than a hundred over last year?s
Take action and voice your opposition to Norway's
illegal hunt and export of whale meat and blubber by writing to
the Prime Minister of Norway today.