Iceland sends 1,700 tonnes of whale meat to Japan

A vessel transporting 1,700 tonnes of whale meat departed Iceland on route to Japan on Thursday, announced an activist group that is protesting the shipment.

International Fund for Animal Welfare spokesman Sigursteinn Masson said that the Winter Bay ship set sail from Hafnarfjordur harbor carrying 1,700 tonnes of whale meat, adding that Ghana was the vessel’s first port of call.

The Marinetraffic.com website also showed footage of ship’s departure at around 10:30am GMT.

Iceland continually comes under fire for its decision to openly defy a 1986 International Whaling Commission moratorium on hunting the creatures. Along with Norway, it is the only country that refuses to comply with the ban.

Japan, meanwhile, uses a legal loophole that states it is allowed to hunt whales for research reasons; however, it has never denied that the meat from the study missions winds up being eaten.

The Winter Bay was originally scheduled to leave the North Atlantic island in the middle of May, but its departure was postponed because of mechanical issues.

Masson noted that he had learnt the vessel could have to make four stops along the way to its final destination, and pointed out that this could be tricky because of the likely protests.

Last year, another shipment between the countries stopped just once, just off Madagascar’s harbor, after its scheduled stop in South Africa was called off after demonstrations prompted the government to state they vessel was not welcome.