A recent shipment of whale meat from Norway to Japan has been rejected because it was found to contain harmful levels of pesticides, including aldrin, dieldrin and chlordane, which made the minke whale meat unsuitable for human consumption. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare conducted the tests, details of which can be found here. They recommended that the products, exported by Brødrene Astrup Andreassen A/S and Myklebust Hvalprodukter were returned.
The highlighted chemicals are thought to play a role in some birth defects, they have also been linked to neurological damage and some cancers. It is most likely that they entered the ocean as agricultural run-off which has found its way into the biostructure over time, since the chemicals have now been banned for use in pesticides because of their deadly side effects.
The Environmental Investigation Agency and the Animal Welfare Institute were behind the release of the damning documents that have brought Norway’s questionable whaling practices into the spotlight.
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), founded in 1951, is a non-profit organisation which works hard to reduce animal suffering caused by human activity, while The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a Washington DC-based Organisation which campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC)
It has been 32 years since commercial whale hunting was completely outlawed by the IWC, in a memorandum which took effect as of 1986. The treaty applies to all countries that are members of the IWC. Japan and Norway are members. However Norway lodged a formal objection to the ban on commercial whaling and resumed the practice in 1993. They now allocate their own whaling quotas, which are not approved by the IWC.
Norway particularly targets the Minke Whale, which is banned under The Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). While the species is not endangered it is thought that there is need to protect them from whaling, which has caused a huge decline in population numbers in recent years.
“There’s concern over whether the hunt is sustainable,” says Clare Perry, head of the EIA’s oceans campaign. Norway uses the non-endangered loophole to insist that the hunt is indeed sustainable, awarding itself an annual catch quota of over 1000 whales.
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