Whales go to the dogs

At the 55th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) today (Wednesday), WDCS, alongside the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), have confirmed that despite emotional claims that Japan needs more whale meat, whale and dolphin meat is being sold in pet food in Japan.

Analysis carried out by Professor Frank Cipriano, of San Francisco State University, on samples of pet food purchased by EIA near Tokyo, revealed both Antarctic minke whale and dolphin meat. Antarctic minke whales are the subject of hunts, conducted by Japan for what it claims to be scientific purposes. Although there is increasing evidence that the number of southern hemisphere minke whales has declined significantly, Japan continues to take around 440 of these animals each year from the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, as well as several hundred minke, sei, Bryde's and sperm whales from the North Pacific.

This year, Japan is proposing to increase its catches and conduct further commercial coastal hunts, providing an already saturated market with the meat and blubber of an additional 150 to 300 large whales.

The whale and dolphin product market in Japan has been criticised over the years for the number of endangered species found in the market place, widespread mislabelling and, more recently, for the pollutant loads found in many products on sale for human consumption. Despite legislation in Japan, which prohibits the sale of dolphin and porpoise products as 'whale' and prohibits the sale of contaminated seafood products, such products are commonly found in the market place. Analysis of meat from toothed whales sold for human consumption in Japan, recently published by Japanese researchers, revealed that 100% of these products exceeded the allowed levels for mercury content.

'The fact that Japan is using whale meat for pet foods totally invalidates Japan's attempts to legitimise and increase their catches' said Clare Perry of EIA. Sue Fisher of WDCS continued, 'We hear the same rhetoric year after year about distressed coastal whaling communities, and now we find that whales are being used as pet food.'

Source: WDCS 18th June 2003