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Revealed: Icelandic whale in storage, landfill

Feature story - 24 January, 2007
In Iceland we have discovered an unprecedented amount of the whale meat from the recent hunt has not been used. Even whaling captain Sigurður Njálsson has said the meat is unfit for domestic consumption. 200 tonnes of the meat is in storage with a further 179 tonnes of entrails buried at a landfill site. But despite demand for whale meat plummeting, Japan and Iceland continue to hunt whales.

Dumping site for 179 tonnes of whale entrails in Iceland.

An old whaling station at Hvalfjörður in Iceland.

An old whaling station at Hvalfjörður in Iceland.

Archive photo: Hvalfjörður whaling station in Iceland. Seagulls feeding on the carcass of a fin whale.

An icy landfill site has been used to dump a vast proportion of the finwhale remains. Underneath the snowy floor around 179 tonnes of bonesand entrails have been left to rot. Around 200 tonnes of meat andblubber - a vast proportion of the total yield - are sitting elsewherein storage waiting to be tested for chemical contamination.

"Icelandclaims their commercial whaling is sustainable - but how can theyjustify it when they are hunting endangered species, without domesticdemand, and an over-supply of whale products in Japan?" said GreenpeaceNordic Oceans campaigner, Frode Pleym. "Both Iceland and Japan continueto whale in the face of domestic and international opposition, eventhough there is no scientific, economic or environmental justificationfor it," added Pleym. 

Destination: Japan

TheIcelandic meat and blubber in storage is intended for export to Japan,despite the fact that Japan already has 4962 tonnes of whale meatstockpiled (as of October 2006) according to the Japanese Ministry ofAgriculture, Foresty and Fisheries. 

Last year, 5500 tonsofwhale meat was supplied to the Japanese market. This includes whalemeatwhich does not get eaten and is simply thrown away because it didn'tsell. Even if we generously assume all of the meat was in fact eaten,that is only about 46gof whale meat per person , as opposed to 5.6kg ofbeef, 12.1kg of pork, and 10.5kg of chicken. 

"It is no surprise that there are massive stockpiles of whale meat, when a recent surveyshows that 95 pecent of Japanese people never or have rarely eatenwhale meat. It is time for all governments to make a commitment to thewhales and not an outdated, unwanted and pointless industry," saidGreenpeace Japan's campaign director, Junichi Sato.

Click the play button above to viewrecent footage from Iceland including interviews with the whaling shipcaptain and Greenpeace oceans campaigner Frode Pleym at the landfillsite.

Thanks to Stod 2 - Icelandic television for footage of whaling captain.

No scientific, economic, or environmental justification

Itseems that there is an awful lot of whale meat sitting in storage orburied in landfill, begging the question as to how these hunts canpossibly be justified.  Despite this, the Japanese FisheriesAgency whaling fleet is currentlypreparing to hunt 10 endangered fin whales and 935 minke whales in theSouthern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

On Thursday the crew of theGreenpeace ship Esperanza will sail to the Southern Ocean, in order toput themselves between the harpoons and the whales.

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Behind the scenes

Our campaigners blog from on the ground in Iceland