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Iceland, Norway Resume Intl. Whale Meat Trade

Iceland, Norway Resume International Whale Meat Trade

High North News (21.06.02):

After a 14 year hiatus, all systems are now go for the resumption of international trade in whale products. The trade will start with an export from Norway to Iceland.

Iceland has informed Norway that importing whale products to Iceland is freely allowed. Hence, Norway has given the green light to issue the formal licence necessary for export.

"We hope to have the export licence any time now. We are now working with the shipment and expect it to go shortly," says Ole Mindor Myklebust, whaler and director of Myklebust Trading Ltd. The first limited shipment will contain about 10 tons of meat and blubber from minke whales.

"This is a happy day. The resumption of whale meat export is one important step towards normalisation of the whaling issue," says Mr Myklebust.

The importer, Jon Gunnarsson, is also a happy man today. "I am glad that whale meat might once again become part of the staple diet here in Iceland," says Mr Gunnarsson.

The last whale meat export from Norway, in 1988 was destined for the Japanese market. Trade negotiations are currently underway with Japan.

"The re-opening of international whale meat trade is a significant step back to business as usual. Acceptance of sustainable whaling is on the increase. But vocal animal rights groups such as Greenpeace continue to pour out their ill-intended propaganda," says Rune Frovik, secretary of the High North Alliance.

Both Iceland, Japan and Norway are exempted from the trade ban on minke whale products imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

CITES has a general ban on international trade in minke whale products as the minke whale is listed as "threatened with extinction". However, CITES recognises that scientifically speaking, the minke whale is not threatened with extinction, but keeps it on that list for political reasons. Iceland, Japan and Norway hold reservations to this decision, and they are thus allowed to engage in international trade in minke whale products.

At the two last CITES meetings in 2000 and 1997, a majority supported Norway's proposal to take the North Atlantic minke whales off the "threatened with extinction" list. But the proposals were not carried as they failed to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority.

The trade is controlled through an unprecedented DNA scheme. DNA profiles from each hunted minke whale are collected and entered into a database. This means that any whale product in the market can be DNA tested, and its origin traced in the database. This ensures that the products in the marketplace are caught and traded legally.

Norway's whaling season is currently underway. The total quota this year is 671 minke whales. Last year, 552 animals were harvested.

For more information, contact: Rune Frovik, Secretary, High North Alliance, Reine i Lofoten, Norway. Ph 0047 91 555 702

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