Wednesday, July 18, 2001 - 12:00 a.m.


Norwegian whale cargo rebuffed by airlines

By Seattle Times news services

OSLO, Norway Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), the joint flag carrier for Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and Finnair joined 21 other airlines yesterday in refusing to transport exports of whale products.

Norway in April made a unilateral decision to resume exports of whale products to Japan, and pressed to have a ban on minke whale hunting overturned, claiming there are enough
minke whales for commercial hunting.

Norwegians eat the red meat of whales but not the fatty blubber, so at least 400 tons are frozen in warehouses. The blubber would be worth millions of dollars in places like Japan, where it is considered a delicacy.

Finnair flies to Oslo, Bergen and Lakselv in Norway. Finnair also flies to Tokyo twice a week.

Norway resumed commercial whale hunting in 1993 despite a global moratorium by the International Whaling Commission and protests from environmental groups including
Greenpeace. The ban was imposed in 1986, but the nonbinding ruling has been rejected by Norway.

Norway says minke whales, the smallest of the baleen whales, are plentiful along its coast and can sustain a limited hunt. The annual hunt, for 549 minke whales this year, began in May.

"Finnair supports efforts for the conservation of endangered whale species as stated in international conventions," Finnair said in a statement.

Similar pledges were made earlier this month by 21 major airlines, including Lufthansa, British Airways and KLM, which said they would not carry Norwegian whale-meat exports,
according to environmental group Greenpeace.

"If we are offered a load, we will say no thanks," SAS spokeswoman Trine Loevberg said. "It shouldn't be much of an issue, since SAS doesn't have its own freight aircraft."

Copyright 2001 The Seattle Times



Last Update on February 2002

The following airlines have already pledged not to carry any whale products:

Air 2000 (Britain),
Air Europa
Lineas Aereas SA (Balearic Islands),
Air France,
Air Malta,
Austrian Airlines,
British Airways,
Crossair HQ (Switzerland),
Czech Airlines,
Deutsche Lufthansa (Germany),
Iran Air,
Kenya Airways (KQ),
KenCargo Airlines (Kenya),
KLM (Dutch),
LOT (Poland),
Maleu (Hungary),
Martinair Cargo (Holland)
Onur Air (Turkey),
Sabena (Belgium),
Scandinavian Airline Systems (SAS),
Sterling European (Denmark),
Swissair (see CrossAir),
Tyrolean Airways (Austrian).