Sale of Icelandic whale meat in turmoil

sperm-whaleThere is little to no market for whale meat in Japan, according to the manager of the import company Asian Trading Co Ltd, which has been Hvalur hf.’s main Japanese customer.

The manager said Asian Trading does not intend to purchase Icelandic whale meat from Hvalur hf. this year. This news comes from a recorded telephone conversation between the Asian Trading manager and a Greenpeace representative on 7th May this year. A copy of the tape was given to Frettabladid newspaper.

In the conversation the manager says the Japanese barely eat whale any more and it is especially unpopular among the young. Whale meat consumption in Japan amounts to around 4,000 tonnes a year according to the Asian Trading manager; and that figure includes dolphin meat.

Kristjan Loftsson, managing director of Hvalur hf., stated that the company’s plan is to sell all the company’s fin whale catch to Japan through Asian Trading. There is a quota for 150 fin whales this year, which would amount to a minimum of 6,000 tonnes. Hvalur hf. has previously sold 80 tonnes to Japan through Asian Trading.

“People can debate forever about the annual food consumption of Japan,” Loftsson told Frettabladid. He said that Japan is suffering its own economic crisis and the price for whale meat has gone down – but he said he does not believe the market in Japan has disappeared.

“People aren’t only thinking of this year, but also to the future. To start up again after such a long time is very expensive,” Loftsson said. According to Loftsson, the Asian Trading manager denied having spoken to Greenpeace at all.

“If this is a conversation with him then it is something that Greenpeace have fabricated. They work like that,” Loftsson said.

In a conversation with Frettabladid, the man Greenpeace claim to have spoken with confirmed that he is the manager of Asian Trading, but would not say anything further.

A group from Greenpeace arrived in Iceland yesterday, Sunday, to hold meetings with the authorities and politicians.

“The reason we are here is that we want to show the authorities that there is no market for whale meat in Japan,” said Wakao Hanaoka from Greenpeace Japan. He is the person who spoke with Asian Trading on behalf of Greenpeace.

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