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NZ Offers To Help Japan Source Whale Meat

22 May 2002

NZ Offers To Help Japan Source Whale Meat That Might Be On Domestic Sale In Breach Of IWC Rules

New Zealand's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission, Hon Jim McLay, has expressed concern over the sale in some Japanese shops of meat labeled as 'Greenland whale' and has offered Japan technical assistance in identifying the origin of the meat.

The existence of the "Greenland whale meat" on the Japanese market was brought to the attention of the IWC at its meeting in Shimonoseki, Japan, today by the United Kingdom Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley.

Mr McLay said there were only two possible explanations for the meat with both raising worrying concerns.

"If the whale meat is correctly labelled then it would be a serious breach of IWC rules against the sale and export of Greenland's IWC-approved aboriginal whale take. However, I accept the assurance of the Greenland and Denmark representatives to the IWC that this is not the case," said Mr McLay.

"If it is not Greenland whale meat then the product must be deliberately mislabeled. The Japanese government should immediately undertake inquiries to ascertain where this whale meat comes from," he said. "Deliberate mislabeling of whale meat raises concerns about Japan's ability to regulate its domestic whale meat market".

Mr McLay said that New Zealand scientists have a comprehensive DNA database with information about whale meat sold in Japanese markets.

"We are willing to make this information available to the Japanese government if it would be of any assistance."


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