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Conservation organizations uncover illegal sale of whale meat in Berlin, Germany

After being tipped off by a news outlet (B.Z. Newspaper), WDC and a peer organization (MEER eV), uncovered the illegal sale of Norwegian minke whale meat to unsuspecting members of the German public during ‘Green Week’ in Berlin. The marinated whale meat was offered to visitors in small bowls as a “specialty”, accompanied by a blueberry dip, for 2 Euro per serving. According to the sales staff, it was minke whale meat from Norway.  However, the import and sale of whale and dolphin meat within Germany is strictly prohibited.

“The fact that the meat is of a species which is strictly protected in Germany and the whole EU, is offered for sale is a scandal. This underlines the fact that there is an urgent need for a sharper application and monitoring of existing laws.  It is not only that Norway broke the law here several times – with both the importation of the meat, as well as offering and selling the meat – it is that the unsuspecting visitors to the Green Week who purchased the whale meat, unknowingly committed a potential illegal activity by purchasing the whale meat. This is all very unexpected and scandalous for an event as big as Green Week” said Astrid Fuchs, Campaign Manager at WDC.”

The conservation department at the Federal Environment Ministry in Berlin was immediately informed and is already investigating the details of the event. As of late Wednesday afternoon the fair management to take the meat off display and German customs are investigating in regard to the alleged breach of the import ban. “In Germany and Europe we have very strong laws to protect whales and dolphins, but, as this incident indicates, the implementation of these same laws, is often inadequate,” continued Fuchs.

It is clear that the intention in offering the minke at Green Week was to give visitors the impression that whale meat is a traditional delicacy in Norway. However the Norwegian population has become less and less interested in the meat of whales, therefore aggressive publicity campaigns have recently been directed especially at young people and tourists. For example, whale burgers have been promoted at music festivals to try and make the meat popular again to a new generation of Norwegians.

“Instead of trying to generate new sales opportunities, Norway should finally realize that whaling is a discredited industry.  This is a clear attempt to find new customers abroad in an illegal manner because of dwindling domestic markets – in defiance of international law,” says Daniel Stengel from MEER e.V.

Norway maintains the world´s largest commercial whaling program. Because of Norway’s declared objection to the international whaling ban (moratorium), the country has been issuing itself quotas to hunt minke whales in the North Atlantic since 1993.

Further to its objection to the IWC moratorium, Norway does not recognize the international ban on trade on whale products enacted by the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and continues to trade with a small number of nations that also hold reservations to the ban on trade in whale products.

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.