Iceland and Norway export whale meat to Japan
Iceland and Norway have exported their first shipment of whale meat to Japan, reports said Monday.
"This trade will be mutually beneficial for the three main whaling countries. It will serve to strengthen our relations," Kristjan Loftsson, managing director of Icelandic whaling company Hvalur, was quoted as telling online site High North News, the dpa reported.
Iceland's government in May set a commercial quota of 40 minke whales, while Norway has a quota of 1,052 minke whales for the ongoing whaling season.
Published reports in Iceland suggested the shipment to Japan totalled 60 tons of fin whale meat caught in 2006, and an undisclosed amount of minke whale meat caught by Norwegian whalers.
Iceland angered conservationists in 2006 when the government said it would resume commercial whaling and set a quota of nine fin whales and 30 minke whales, of which six fin whales were caught.
The decision was criticized by conservation groups and several governments, who fear that the move threatens a two-decade long moratorium on whale hunting.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) issued a statement Monday saying the exports were an "outrage" and came on the eve of a new meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
"This is an outrage and shows just how naive it is to trust the whaling nations," Sue Fisher of WDCS International said.
Loftsson defended the decision to cull whales, citing large stocks of minke whales.
"This trade is perfectly legal under the domestic legislation of the three countries as well as all relevant international law," Loftsson added.
Japan has conducted scientific whale hunting under provisions offered by the IWC while Norway resumed whaling of minke whales, the smallest of the seven great whales, in 1993.
The fin whale is the second largest of the seven great whales. They are up to 24 metres long, and can weigh between 45 and 64 tons. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has listed the fin whales on its red list of threatened species.