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The EU must shut its ports to whale meat!

More than 105,000 people responded to our call for the EU to ban the transit of whale meat through its ports. If you were one of them – thank you! 

The European Union actually has some solid laws against killing whales and trading in their meat and other body parts, so it should be a no-brainer for the EU not to help the whalers with their bloody trade.   However, the transit of whale meat through EU ports is perfectly legal as long as the relevant paperwork is in order and the meat at no point actually enters the EU. WDC has been campaigning to change this for several years and this week, we’ve been delighted to see some valuable progress as the European Parliament discussed Norway´s whale slaughter and the increasing trade in whale meat between Norway and Japan. In a debate held on July 6th, many MEPs called on the EU Commission to act and ban the transit of whale meat through EU ports once and for all

The many MEPs from various political backgrounds who spoke on the issue were in agreement that the EU needs to step up its game and forcefully address Norway’s continued whaling and trade

MEP Mark Demesmaeker stated that if the EU does not do something substantial, it will be complicit in the trade in dead whales.

MEP  Anja Hazekamp, who was instrumental in getting the question tabled, said that whaling and trade must stop. She called on the EU to ban the transits and referred to a legal opinion that clearly showed that the EU has the option to ban transits, even if the relevant paperwork is in order.

Green MEP Keith Taylor gave a passionate statement in which he said that the EU is assisting the whalers by allowing the whale meat transits, which actually contravenes EU policies aimed at protecting whales and dolphins. Keith said that if Norway did not comply with CITES and IWC regulations then a transit ban should be enacted.

MEP Marco Affronte pointed out that over the past few years, the European Parliament has debated whaling a lot and he expressed frustration that no practical steps have so far been taken.  He added that this time though, the EU has the chance to finally do something. As a side note, Mr Affronte also said that, as regards the current trade agreement with Japan, the European Parliament has stated clearly that it wants to see an end to Japan’s whaling.

Other MEPs chimed in and agreed that the EU has a duty to send a very clear message that whaling is unacceptable, and take action.

All strong and positive stuff from the European Parliament, but the EU Commission has been disappointingly weak in its response. The Commission representative repeated previous statements and cited EU laws on the protection of whales and the prohibition of trade in whale meat and products.

He then went on to remind people that Norway is actually permitted to trade in whale products because it has what’s known as a ‘reservation’ and legally excuses itself from the rules that most of the rest of the world agrees through the International Whaling Commission (the body that regulates whaling) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). He also pointed out that transit of such shipments was legal under international law and in the EU. He said the EU will continue its current course of raising the issue with Norway and calling on them to stop, but he did not acknowledge the possibility of a ban or stronger measures.

The Commissioner also had to admit that the EU does not have information on the quantities and destinations of whale meat going its ports.

All in all, a positive and necessary debate.

The real test will come in September when the European Parliament will have to decide whether or not they will put these words into action. A ‘resolution’ will be put to the vote which will echo the calls of the MEPs for strict measures against Norway and will hopefully call for a ban on the transit of whale meat through EU ports.  If successful, this will put further pressure on the EU Commission to close its ports to whale meat and stop assisting the transit of dead whales. WDC will be on the case, on your behalf, until the bloody trade is stopped. 

If you’d like to help this work with a donation, it will be very gratefully received.

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About Astrid Fuchs

Astrid Fuchs leitet bei WDC Deutschland den Bereich Policy und strategische Entwicklung. Daneben koordiniert sie die EU-Arbeit und betreut die Bereiche Walfang und Delfinarien.