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Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

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© EIAABOVE:Icelandic fin whale and otherwhale products on sale inTsukiji fishmarket.problem because it was not frozen onboard the ship.IwateEIA visited the Tonichi factory in Iwate(located in Otsuchi port) as it had beenidentified as the processor of theIcelandic fin whale meat on sale in largequantities in Osaka. The manager of thefactory was unwilling to discuss itsbusiness and referred EIA to itsTokyo-based headquarters. When EIAvisited the Tokyo headquarters, therepresentative denied any knowledge ofwhale products, and initially referredEIA to the Iwate-based factory. He thenagreed to ask the owner to call EIA, butno call was ever received and EIA wasunable to contact the owner directly.WakayamaIn general Wakayama based traderswere unwilling to speak about the whaletrade at all, most likely due to thecontroversial dolphin hunting situationin Taiji. Four Wakayama based traders(three in Taiji) with whom EIA spokesaid they could buy Icelandic fin whalefrom the Taiji development localgovernment cooperative, however theydid not know or did not want to saywhere the whale meat originated.Two traders suggested it was fromKyodo Senpaku, but this could notbe confirmed.HyogoEIA interviewed the President ofMarugei company, a major processingfirm based in Himeji which sells toTokyo and other central fishmarkets aswell as other trading companies. ThePresident gave EIA the name andaddress of the importing company andtold EIA that all Icelandic fin whale wasimported by the same company. Marugeistarted selling Icelandic fin whale in2010 and was selling frozen red meatand bacon products. Marugei showedEIA a supply form detailing the variousdifferent cuts available for sale,including 24,081 boxes of H2 (fatty meatoff the bone), 11,891 boxes of R2 (redmeat) and 7,170 boxes of R1 (red meat,premium grade) – each box containing15kg of product. Blubber was also onthe list of available products.The President of Marugei predictedthat sales of Icelandic fin whale couldincrease given that the Antarctic fleethad just returned with fewer than 200whales. He said Icelandic whale meatwas cheaper than Japanese whale meat,there were fewer costs associated withwhaling in Iceland than in Japan and manyshops were already selling the product.The President said the quality of theIcelandic whale meat was “very, verylow” and that he didn’t pay for it whenhe had to throw it away. Despite this, finwhale is considered a premium productand still sells; he said: “…most of thewhales Japan catches nowadays are minke.That is why Icelandic whale can competeagainst Japanese whale”. He confirmedthat Kyodo Senpaku is trading in someIcelandic fin whale, purchased from theimporting company. He predicted thatKyodo Senpaku might get more deeplyinvolved in the future.ShimonosekiFour traders were selling whale productsat the Karato wholesale fishmarket inShimonoseki when EIA visited. Theseller at Fujino Shoten company, thelargest in terms of floor space, told EIAhe had purchased 300kg of Icelandic finwhale two years before, but had thrown100-200kg away because it was badquality. He further stated that he couldnever sell the meat as sashimi (i.e. forconsuming raw).EIA interviewed the President ofMarukou company, which is the onlylarge whale wholesaler left inShimonoseki. Marukou employs 70people and deals mostly with whaleproducts but has diversified to includesome fish species. Marukou sells whalefrom scientific research (purchasedfrom Kyodo Senpaku) but also Japanesecoastal whaling. He said Icelandic finwhale had gradually started to circulatein Japan but complained about thequality, stating that he could not knowif it was good or bad quality until themeat was defrosted. Overall theMarukou President did not see Icelandicfin whale as a stable business (due tothe quality problem, and becauseIceland wanted to join the ‘anti-whaling’European Union); he suggested that ifthe trade became bigger then KyodoSenpaku would be “the most propercompany” to manage everything.TokyoToshoku is Japan’s largest whalemiddle trader, with an estimated 30-40per cent share of the ¥5,000 million($60 million) whale meat wholesalebusiness. Sales of the company areabout ¥1.1 billion ($13 million). Thesales director with whom EIA spoke inTsukiji fishmarket described them as“Japanese number one”. When EIA visitedToshoku in March 2011 it was sellingIcelandic fin whale.Like other traders, Toshoku said thequality of Icelandic fin whale was badand that the whale meat was cheaperthan Japanese whale meat. Toshokusources its Icelandic fin whale fromKyodo Senpaku, not directly from theimporter. The trader mentioned thatbullets had been found in the Icelandicfin whale meat when it was being cut.MISAKA TRADING – CREATEDTO IMPORT AN ENDANGEREDSPECIESDuring its investigation, EIA was toldby the President of Marugei that theimporting company connected to theHvalur whale trade was Misaka Shoji(Misaka Trading), a small company withfour or five people based in Yokohama.His associate telephoned a representativeof Misaka Trading, Mr Tejima, askinghim to speak with the EIA investigators.Mr Tejima was unwilling to speak overthe telephone, and the President ofMarugei later explained that Mr Tejimahad received negative publicity inthe past and was unlikely to talk toany media.According to records held by theMinistry of Justice in Yokohama, MisakaTrading Co. Ltd. was established onJune 5, 2009 with capital of ¥2.5 million($30,000) in order to carry out theimport and export of seafood anddomestic sales. It has two BoardDirectors with two further Directorswho resigned in April 2010. AlthoughMr Tejima is not listed on the companyrecords, he is listed as a Director of AsiaTrading Company, which was previouslyidentified by Greenpeace as the companywhich imported about 80 tonnes ofIcelandic fin whale in 2008. It appearsthat Mr Tejima has continued hisinvolvement with the importation ofIcelandic fin whale, but the operationhas moved to a new set up. Accordingto the President of Marugei, Mr Tejimawas “working substantially like thecompany representative”.EIA visited the registered address ofMisaka Trading, a small residentialproperty in a suburb of Yokohama,but was unable to speak with anyrepresentative of the company.Eventually EIA was able to hold aseries of telephone calls with MrSakaguchi, a Director of MisakaTrading, from which it received thefollowing information.Mr Sakaguchi said that he and fourfriends had set up the company in June2009 to import fin whale because hewas asked to by Kristján Loftsson. Oneof his friends had previously worked forMaruha – Japan’s largest whalingcompany before the ban on whaling –and had been involved in the Icelandictrade. Mr Sakaguchi said that KristjánLoftsson helped financially withoperating costs and he confirmed thatMisaka Trading was the only companyimporting whale meat from Iceland.The Director said that although KristjánLoftsson is not on the Board ofDirectors, he is routinely consulted onthe company’s decisions, including theprice at which it sells the fin whaleproducts. He said: “The price cannot bedecided without talking to KristjánLoftsson”. The Director also said finwhale meat was becoming popular andmentioned that the Antarctic fleet’searly return meant that the amount ofwhale meat in Japan was reduced, whichhad a positive effect on his sales.Mr Sakaguchi said that setting up hadbeen challenging as his company had toget permission from the FisheriesAgency, the Ministry of Economy, Tradeand Industry and from Customs in additionto numerous expensive whale producttests (e.g. DNA, mercury, PCBs, bacteria)and a five per cent customs tax. Later,during a call in May 2011, the Directorof Misaka Trading stated that theIcelandic company [Hvalur] paid forall the import costs and sold on aconsignment basis. He said: “until theproducts are sold, everything is belongingto Iceland. The meat and everything”.In March 2011 Mr Sakaguchi confirmedthat Misaka Trading had imported about700 tonnes, but “many more is coming”.He said there was approximately 250tonnes stockpiled in Japan, with afurther 2,500 tonnes in Iceland. Thisindicated to EIA that approximately 450tonnes had already been sold. In May2011, Mr Sakaguchi confirmed it hadsold roughly 500 tonnes of fin whalemeat to the Japanese market.Mr Sakaguchi estimated MisakaTrading is making a profit ofapproximately one to 1.5 million yenper tonne of fin whale product(US$12,320 – $18,480 per tonne).Taking the average of these twofigures, this would equate to a profitof US$7.7 million from the 500 tonnessold so far, with a potential profit of$38.7 million from the estimated2,500 tonnes stockpiled in Iceland.BELOW:Office of Misaka Trading.BOTTOM:Icelandic whale export statisticsin March and April 2011.© EIA© Hagstofa89

© EIAWHALE SALES ONLINEABOVE:Canned Icelandic fin whale,sold online by Amazon Japan.Prior to the investigation, EIA Japaneseresearchers looked at the accessibilityof Icelandic fin whale online in Japanand found wide availability through anumber of online shopping and auctionsites, including Yahoo! and Amazon, aswell as via websites of known whaletraders. A variety of products wereavailable, mostly red meat and bacon.Companies selling Icelandic fin whalewere predominantly based in Osaka,Tokyo and Wakayama.A comparison of costs at the retail endis difficult because prices for whale meatvary greatly depending on the differentparts of the whale. Although most traderssaid it was being sold cheaply, it is notclear if the low prices are being passedonto customers in Japan, althoughIcelandic fin whale is often sold inmixed product offers alongside minke,Bryde’s and sei whale from Japan’swhaling and therefore at the same price.In large quantities (5kg plus), fin whalewas selling as cheaply as ¥210/100g(($26/kg), while the price for normalconsumers (100-400g) tended to behigher, at about ¥1000/100g for leanmeat and ¥1,400/100g for bacon($125-175/kg). The best cuts, such asmarbled meat, sell for more than¥4000/100g ($500/kg). 48Whale meat sales have also recentlytaken to the internet in Iceland. Pickledfin whale meat in 300g cans is beingoffered for sale via the internet siteof the Icelandic Minke WhalersAssociation (Hrefnuveiðimanna ehf) ata cost of 2998 ISK/kg (US$25.87/kg).The site advertises minke whale steaksand smoked minke whale meat. 49Iceland’s second minke whaling company,Útgerðarfélagið Fjörður ehf, alsoadvertises whale meat, 50 while othercompanies which have sold whale meatonline in Iceland include Esja Kjötvinnslaand Kjarnafædi. 51 A recent WDCS surveyof Icelandic restaurants, shops andcatering firms showed that an increasingnumber are now using the internet topromote the sale of a variety ofproducts, from whale kebabs to minkewhale carpaccio. 52HVALUR’S AMBITIONS FORNEW WHALE PRODUCTSAND MARKETSWith a population of just over 300,000,Iceland’s domestic market for whalemeat is small and it has always been amajor exporter of whale meat and otherwhale products, mainly to Japan. Todayits commercial ambitions are expanding;Hvalur hf, which produced and exportedwhale meal (for animal feed), whale oil,meat and blubber throughout the 1980s,began contemplating a return to largescale whaling and trade in whale productswell in advance of its rejoining the IWC.Hvalur first applied for permission tooperate a cold storage food facility inHafnarfjõrður in 2000 and permissionwas granted by the town council somesix years in advance of Iceland’s returnto commercial fin whaling. 53The company also applied for and wasgranted permits in 2007 to expand itswhaling operations, including theconstruction of a boiler house at itsHvalfjörður whaling station. A furtherHvalur application to health authoritieswas submitted in June 2009 for a licensefor the operation of meat cutting,packagingand storage of food. This license wasapproved for a 12-year period. 54Managing Director Kristján Loftsson hasindicated an interest in processing bothwhale oil and ground bone into meal 55and in 2010, Hvalur admitted processingwhale oil into shipping fuel for itswhaling vessels. 56 Iceland's whalingindustry still has both the knowledgeand infrastructure needed tomanufacture animal feed from whaleproducts. An April 2010 presentationon regional development by the IcelandicGovernment suggested developing"whale products" including whale meat,meal, oil and blubber, 57 and recommendedthe formation of an industrial park inHvalfjörður where the fin whalingstation is located. Iceland's StatisticalBureau reported two exports of almost23 tonnes of whale meal to Denmark in2009 although the Icelandic FisheriesMinistry swiftly characterised the reportas a “clerical error”. 58In March of 2011, the NorwegianFishery and Aquaculture IndustryResearch Fund (FHF) published anotification of a project entitled‘Improved utilisation of marineresources: testing of back and bellyblubber from minke whales for theproduction of omega-3 oils.’ Thenotification speaks of the commercialpotential for whale oil, and states, “Inaddition, there is a possibility to sourceblubber from the Icelandic and Faroesefleet if this is of interest. Some simplecalculations estimate that the minimumcritical size of a facility for crude oilproduction and refining should have acapacity of approximately 500 tonnesper day.” 59LACK OF OVERSIGHT FORICELAND’S WHALINGPROGRAMMEWhile HAFRO has taken biologicalsamples from the whales hunted,inspectors from Iceland’s Directorateof Fisheries (Fiskistofa) were present ononly two minke whaling and four finwhaling trips in 2010 and directlyobserved only the killing of three out of60 minke whales and six out of 148 finwhales (the killing of a further twominke whales and three fin whales wereobserved by NAMMCO inspectors).Fisheries inspectors only visitedIceland’s fin whaling station to observecompliance with whaling regulationstwice in 2010 and it is not knownwhether inspectors visited minkewhaling landing locations and processingfacilities at all. 60ICELAND’S EXPANDINGINTERNATIONAL TRADEIceland’s trade in whale products hasincreased dramatically in the past threeTABLE 4. Iceland fin whale products on sale in JapanProduct nameWhale's lean meatWhale's mixed meatWhale's baconWhale's tail meatWhale's lean meatWhale's marbled meatWhale's baconWhale's breast meatWhale's lean meatWhale's baconProductprice (¥)1,1555,9809,45010,50010,5004,2004,7258,9801,1559,800Quantity(g)10050070030050001003203000100500years, with exports of hundreds oftonnes of whale meat to Japan, Latviaand the Faroe Islands, in addition toseveral shipments of whale oil toNorway and Belarus, and ‘other frozenproducts’ to Japan. Using its reservationto the CITES Appendix I listing ofwhales, Iceland has engaged in legalwhale product trade with non-Partiesto CITES, 61 and with Parties to CITESwhich also have reservations to theAppendix 1 listing of fin and minkewhales, 62 but it has also traded illegally.In 2004, an Icelandic company soughtan initial export permit for ten tonnes ofsei, fin and minke whale products to besent to China via both Hong Kong andMacau. A subsequent permit, apparentlyrequested after Iceland revised itsspecial permit whaling plan, sought toexport 10 tonnes of minke whaleproducts to China. The Icelandiccompany Pelastikk hf was initiallygranted the permit, but because Chinadoes not hold CITES reservations forwhales, permission was rescinded.This resulted in a court case in whichPelastikk successfully sued the IcelandicGovernment, winning 1.5 million ISK(US$19,349) in compensation in 2008. 63Although this case should havesensitised the Government to CITESrules, Iceland has subsequentlyexported whale products (meat and oil)in violation of CITES to both Latvia(minke) and Belarus (species notknown), neither of which holdPrice(¥/100g)1,1551,1961,3503,5002104,2001,4772991,1551,960SpeciesFin Whale from Iceland.Fin Whale from Iceland.Fin Whale from Iceland.Minke, Sei and Bryde’s Whalein research whaling in Japan.Fin Whale from Iceland.Fin Whale from Iceland.Fin Whale from IcelandFin Whale from Iceland.Minke, Sei and Bryde’s Whalein research whaling in Japan.Fin Whale from Iceland.Fin Whale from Iceland.Minke, Sei and Bryde’s Whalein research whaling in Japan.Fin Whale from Iceland.Company name sellingproduct and weblink有 限 会 社 高 木 (Takagi)http://item.rakuten.co.jp/ajisaku/854721有 限 会 社 高 木 (Takagi)http://item.rakuten.co.jp/ajisaku/959654株 式 会 社 はなまる 生 活 (Hanamaru-Seikatu Co., Ltd.)http://item.rakuten.co.jp/hanamaruseikatsu/10000585/株 式 会 社 ルイアンヌ(Ruiannu Co., Ltd.)http://store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/ tsuhan-o/t82131.html株 式 会 社 ルイアンヌ(Ruiannu Co., Ltd.)http://store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/tsuhan-o/t82134.html株 式 会 社 日 野 商 店 (Hino-shoten Co., Ltd.)http://item.rakuten.co.jp/kuziran/nagasu-onomitoku-2/#nagasu-onomi-toku-2株 式 会 社 マルヒロ (Maruhiro Co., Ltd.)http://item.rakuten.co.jp/sakana-shop/10000034/株 式 会 社 守 破 理 (Syuhari Co., Ltd.)http://item.rakuten.co.jp/syunsaikuidaore/w-011/有 限 会 社 高 木 (Takagi)http://shop.gnavi.co.jp/Mall2/921/121147.html有 限 会 社 (ARC)http://store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/airi-market/w-110.html1011

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