Whale pet food a desperate move

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The environmental group’s CEO Steve Shallhorn said government subsidies kept the whaling industry, which was seen as representing Japanese tradition and culture, afloat despite poor demand for the meat.

“We know there are tonnes and tonnes of whale meat in frozen storage all around Japan, and we know the price of whale meat is at an all time low,” he said.

“The Japanese whaling industry is trying, but failing, to promote to people to eat whale meat, so it seems now they are pushing it upon the nation of dogs.”

“I think it’s a desperate move.”

A British environmental group, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), said Japan had 4,800 tonnes of whale meat stockpiled last year, and could add a further 1,700 tonnes this year after increasing the size of its hunt.

The WDCS said a website selling whale meat to dog owners is claiming the demand for whale meat from pet owners and sales to the pet industry are soaring.

Mr Shallhorn said it was already possible to buy whale meat for human consumption on the internet.

“It’s fairly common in Japan for them to sell meats of different kinds on websites,” he said.

“While I haven’t seen the site (selling dog food), it’s not a stretch they would move that onto dog food… Apparently there is a website with a dog named Charlie that says `I like whale meat too’.”

“I couldn’t say we at Greenpeace are very impressed.”

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) declared a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, but whaling for scientific purposes is still allowed.

Japan claims all the whales it kills are used for scientific research.

Greenpeace led a highly publicised chase of Japanese whaling ships around the Southern Ocean from December 21 to January 20, dogging and disrupting the hunt.

Mr Shallhorn said six Japanese whale vessels, including one factory ship, three harpoon boats and two spotter boats, would remain in the Southern Ocean for another two or three weeks.