No Market for Icelandic Whale Meat in Japan

Press release - 8 June, 2009
The Japanese trader who accepted an import of fin and minke whale meat from Iceland and Norway last year has told Greenpeace that he will not take any more in the future, because there is no market for the whale meat in Japan.

The managing director of Tokyo-based Asia Trading Co. Ltd. told a Greenpeace researcher he had only taken the controversial export last year as a favour to Iceland whaler Kristjan Loftsson, because he was a friend, but had no plans to repeat the deal.

"If you can't sell to your friends, and the three biggest fisheries companies in Japan have already said they don't even want Japanese whale meat, then there is no possibility that there is a viable export market from Iceland to Japan, said Wakao Hanaoka, Greenpeace Japan Oceans campaigner, speaking in Iceland.

Hanaoka presented a dossier of testimony and figures outlining the lack of interest from the Asia Trading Co. Ltd and the decline of the whale meat market in Japan, including the closure of the flagship marketing store and the announcement by the main fisheries companies that they would not trade in whale meat even if the international moratorium on hunting was lifted (1).

The controversial hunt of 150 fin whales in Icelandic waters, sanctioned by the previous government, is due to begin later this month, amid warnings that such an escalation in whaling will do significant damage to Iceland's reputation and economy.

Greenpeace believes whales are worth far more to Iceland alive than dead. Tourism is a key economic driver in Iceland and the whale watching industry is a significant component. More than 115,000 people have already committed to visit Iceland as soon as the government announces an end to whaling (2).

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

VVPR info: Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Whales Project Coordinator, (In Reykjavík) +31615007406
Dave Walsh, Greenpeace International Media (in Amsterdam) +353 87 2207023,

Notes: Background factsheet is available at /international/en/publications/reports/fact-sheet-the-whale-meat-mar/
1. Director of Asian Trading Co. Ltd., In conversation with Wakao Hanaoka, Greenpeace, concerning the company’s import of whale meat to Japan from Iceland and Norway, 7 May 2009
2. Iceland Whales Pledge:
Last year about 115,000 people went whale watching in Iceland. Over 20% of these stated whale watching as an important reason for coming to Iceland, spending millions of US$ in revenue in the process. A further 115,000 people have signed a pledge stating that they will consider visiting Iceland if Iceland stops whaling. Source: Icelandictourism