Endangered Whales - Hunted, Stockpiled and Left to Rot on a Rubbish Dump

Press release - 23 January, 2007
The Icelandic government's claims of sustainable whaling were harpooned this morning, after Greenpeace activists revealed that around 200 tonnes of meat and blubber from endangered fin whales are still in storage, waiting to be tested for chemical contamination and a further 179 tonnes of bones and entrails have been dumped and left to rot in a landfill site.

The Icelandic whale meat and blubber is intended for export to Japan, despite the claims by the whaler who caught them, that some of it is not fit for human consumption.

The Japanese whaling fleet is currently preparing to hunt 10 more fin whales and 935 minke whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, despite having massive stockpiles of its own of more than 4400 tonnes of unsold whale meat in freezers in Japan. At the end of last year a single whaler, given a commercial license by the Icelandic government killed seven endangered fin whales.

"Iceland claims their commercial whaling is sustainable - but how can they justify it when they are hunting endangered species, without domestic demand, and an over-supply of whale products in Japan?" said Greenpeace Nordic Oceans campaigner, Frode Pleym. "Both Iceland and Japan continue to whale in the face of domestic and international opposition, even though there is no scientific, economic or environmental justification for it," added Pleym.

Greenpeace has launched its biggest ever global recruitment drive - inviting tens of thousands of people to campaign to stop whaling via a new website - http://whales.greenpeace.org. The first demand of the newly expanded campaign team was for anti-whaling countries to commit to reforming the IWC and refuse to attend a pro-whaling meeting in Tokyo next month, sponsored by the Japanese government.

"In a recent opinion poll by the Nippon Research Centre, 69% of Japanese people said they do not support the government whaling on the high seas, including the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales campaign coordinator. "It is also no surprise that there are massive stockpiles of whale meat, when the same survey shows that 95% of people never or have rarely eaten whale meat. It is time for all governments to make a commitment to the whales and not an outdated, unwanted and pointless industry." Sato added.

On Thursday the Greenpeace ship Esperanza will sail to the Southern Ocean, in order to put themselves between the harpoons and the whales, to stop individual whales being killed.

Other contacts: Sara Holden: Greenpeace International communications, on board the Esperanza in New Zealand: + 64 212 607 255 () Frode Pleym: Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, in Iceland: + 46 703 535 766 () Keiko Shirokawa: Greenpeace Japan, in Tokyo, +813 5339 9816

VVPR info: For Video and photos: Photo: John Novis, Photo Editor, in Amsterdam: +31 653 819 121 Video: Maarten Van Rouveroy, in Amsterdam: +31 646 197 322

Exp. contact date: 2007-02-27 00:00:00