Thursday, January 25, 2007

Greenpeace says Icelandic whale meat piling up unused

REYKJAVIK (AFP) - Two hundred tonnes (220 tons) of Icelandic whale meat have been stockpiled in Reykjavik since October 2006, evidence that hunting the animal served no purpose, environmental group Greenpeace said. "The Icelandic market has not proved to be what whalers expected. Domestic demand (for whale meat) was not what it was 20 years ago. People are choosing alternatives," Greenpeace's whaling spokesman for the Nordic region, Frode Pleym, told AFP. "The market is proving it (whaling) doesn't make any sense," Pleym added.He said 200 tonnes of whale meat and blubber had been stored in freezers in a warehouse owned by the Hvalurj whaling company near Reykjavik.The meat had been there since October, when the whale hunt ended due to poor weather and a lack of daylight. The company was awaiting the results of toxicology tests and an export licence from Tokyo before exporting it to Japan."Japan's agriculture ministry has said that Japan has stockpiles of over 4,400 tonnes of whale meat. There is no incentive for continuing whaling," Pleym said. "The (Icelandic) government must face the fact that whaling makes no sense economically or politically," he added.No one at the Icelandic fisheries ministry nor at Hvalurj was available for comment on Wednesday. Iceland announced in September 2006 it had authorised its whalers to hunt 30 minke whales and nine fin whales by August 2007 for export.The move made Iceland only the second country after Norway to openly defy a global moratorium on commercial whaling, approved in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).The decision sparked protests from environmental groups and a number of countries, including Australia, New Zealand and the European Union. But Reykjavik argued that none of the planned catches involve any endangered or threatened stocks of whales."They only involve abundant stocks and are linked to Iceland's overall policy of sustainable utilisation of marine resources," the fisheries ministry said in September.According to the IWC, there are close to 70,000 minke whales in the central North Atlantic, of which around 43,600 are in Icelandic waters.The fin whale is the second largest species of whale after the blue whale and the animal's population numbers around 25,800 in the central North Atlantic.

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