Endangered whale meat sold as dog treat in Japan

Endangered whale meat sold as dog treat in Japan

Snacks made from endangered whales caught by fishermen in Iceland and sold as luxury dog treats in Japan have caused outrage among environmentalists.

The North Atlantic fin whales are being hunted in Iceland and sold on to the affluent Japanese pet market.

Michinoku Farm, based just north of Tokyo, has been selling the jerky-like snack, but has now decided to take it off the shelves after a backlash from campaigners.

The firm was selling the whale snacks in packets of three sizes, up to a 500g bag for £25.

Michinoku's president, Takuma Konno, said he had decided to pull the product even though the sale of them is not illegal in Japan.

According to the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, he told the Agence France Press: "Dogs are like family members for many people in Japan. We just wanted to sell a wide variety of food for dogs.

"Campaigners look at whales as important animals, but we consider dogs to be just as important.

"Maybe I was ignorant of the debate (about whaling), but it's not worth selling the product if it risks disturbing some people."

Japan's biggest online retailer, Rakuten, still sells a similar product.

Clare Perry, a senior campaigner with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), told the Guardian: "In the face of such blatant disregard for species conservation and international agreements, internet retailers such as Rakuten need to take more responsibility for the sustainability and acceptability of the products they market, and should follow the example of Amazon and Google, which have banned the sale of all whale products in Japan."

Nanami Kurasawa, executive director of IKAN, told the Daily Telegraph: "As Iceland prepares to hunt over 180 fin whales in 2013 for this export market, NGOs question the environmental and economic logic of using meat from an endangered species for the manufacture of dog treats."

Fin whales are the world's second largest mammals after blue whales, and are listed as being at risk of extinction.

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