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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

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Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

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Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...

Kill a whale to treat a pampered pooch? At least one Japanese pet food company has seen the light

I’m pleased to see that at least one Japanese company has decided to stop selling dog treats made from endangered fin whales. WDC, working with other NGOs (The Animal Welfare Institute, AWI); Environmental Investigation Agency, EIA and the Iruka & Kujira [Dolphin & Whale] Action Network, IKAN) exposed the fact that Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf was exporting fin whale meat to Japan where it was made into pet treats. Icelandic fin whale has been sold in Japan for human consumption since 2008, but its use in pet food suggests that new markets are being explored.

Within hours of our press release, one of the companies highlighted, Michinoku Farms, removed the products from sale. Michinoku had been offering the dried fin whale pet treats in various package sizes: 60 grams for  ¥609 (US$5.97/£3.89); 200g for ¥1680 (US$16.49/£10.74) and 500g for ¥3780 (US$37.13/£24.18). The product description identified the meat as being fin whale of Icelandic origin.

Takuma Konno, President of Michinoku Farms commented: “Maybe I was ignorant of the debate (about whaling), but it’s not worth selling the product if it risks disturbing some people”

WDC warmly applauds this decision; however, it may not be the grand, altruistic gesture on behalf of whale conservation that it might initially appear. As is the case with sales of whale meat for human consumption in Japan, it appears that the market for Icelandic whale meat pet treats is poor.  For example, in mid-April this year, the Dingo pet store in Tokyo dropped prices on the 200g package of the Icelandic whale pet snack from ¥1680 to ¥1470 (US$14.45/₤9.40) labelling the product as a “bargain article.” In addition, Rakuten, the massive Japanese e-commerce website which owns Play.com, was selling the Michinoku Farms Icelandic fin whale meat dog treats in 50g and 250g packages, again at discounted prices.