The international community strongly condemned Iceland and Japan on Friday after reports emerged that an Icelandic ship loaded with 1,700 tons of whale meat left for Japan on Thursday. The move prompted outrage from environmental groups and social media.
“Winter Bay has left Hafnarfjordur harbor with 1,700 tons of whale meat with Ghana… as their first destination,” Sigursteinn Masson, Iceland spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Japan uses a network of loosely regulated African countries, like Ghana, to conceal the fact it continues to harvest and eat rare whales and other marine mammals, as we’ve profiled here in the past.
Iceland and Norway are the only nations that openly defy the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 ban on hunting whales. while Japan thinly disguises its commercial whale hunt as ‘research’.
The hunt regularly draws activists, such as conservation group Sea Sheppard, in confrontations that frequently turn violent.
According to Icelandic newspaper Eyjan, the meat was loaded aboard a ship near the capital Reykjavik two weeks ago, but mechanical issues delayed the vessel’s departure until yesterday.
Last year’s shipment from Iceland to Japan, which contained over 100 rare whales, made only one stop outside Madagascar’s harbor because in South Africa, where another stop was planned, protests prompted the government to declare them unwelcome.
The ship is now forced to anchor offshore because of the threat of protests.
Last September, the 28 member states of the European Union and a coalition including the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Israel and New Zealand stated their “strong opposition to Iceland’s continuing and increased harvest of whales…and to its ongoing international trade in whale products.”
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