Norway to defy ban, resume whale exports to Iceland

NORWAY: June 24, 2002

OSLO - Norway said last week that it would defy an international ban on
commercial whaling and resume exports of whale meat to Iceland after a
14-year break.

Oslo said it would issue an export licence to a whaling company in the
next few days to send 10-15 tonnes of minke whale meat to the North
Atlantic island, although whales are on an international list of
endangered species.

“This is a great victory,” Ole Mindor Myklebust, a whaler and director
of the export company Myklebust Trading AS, told Reuters. “It has been a
battle full of surprises and disappointment.”

Norway resumed commercial hunting of minke whales in 1993, ignoring a
global moratorium, and said last year that it would allow exports to
pro-whaling nations like Japan and Iceland for the first time since
1988.

Exports to Iceland had been stalled by a Norwegian demand that Reykjavik
carry out DNA genetic tests to help Oslo track the meat. Japan, where
whale meat is also a delicacy, is expanding its own “scientific
research” whaling programme.

The DNA checking system “is now in place in Iceland and export licences
will now be issued,” Jan Pieter Groenhof, an adviser at the Norwegian
Fisheries Ministry, told Reuters.

Myklebust, the only whaler to apply for a licence so far, said he was
likely to export the frozen meat during the summer.

“We already have a deal. When we get a licence, we just need to reserve
a place on a ship for transport,” Myklebust said.

He did not disclose the price. A whale contains on average about 1,500
kg of meat and 500-700 kg of blubber. Icelanders mostly eat fried whale
meat.

Iceland, which halted whaling in 1990, says that whales are abundant,
are consuming its fish stocks and should be hunted within limits. It
wants to resume hunting, but the International Whaling Commission has
repeatedly vetoed its requests for a system of regulated catches.

Norway, ignoring the IWC, has set its own catch quota of 674 minke
whales for this season.

The whaling lobby group High North Alliance said it hoped that exports
to Iceland could pave the way for trade with Japan.

“Iceland is a relatively small market, but it’s a start,” said Rune
Frovik, secretary at the High North Alliance.

Story by Inger Sethov
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE