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Vaquita. Photo Thomas Jefferson

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Humpback whale © Christopher Swann

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Whale meat shipments through Canada revealed

Politicians in Canada were shocked to discover this week that their country is being used as a trans-shipment destination for whale meat. Despite the fact that Canada is signed up to an international agreement that protects endangered fin whales (CITES), meat from the species has been shipped from Iceland to Canada and transported across the country via train on its way to Japan.

Japan and Iceland continue to kill and trade in whales even though an international ban on commercial whaling began in 1986. Bizarrely, it seems that Canada is not able to stop the shipments moving through its territory if customs documentation is correct.

Canada has to allow shipments under customs control to transit provided they meet normal documentation and other requirements,” Environment Canada spokesperson, Jirina Vlk said in a statement. “CITES clearly provides an exemption for shipments of CITES species in-transit through a country so long as such a shipment remains in customs control, that is, in bond or under seal.”

As a result, it seems that Canada is now an unwilling accomplice in the ‘banned’ commercial trade in whale meat alongside Japan, Iceland and Norway. WDC is currently campaigning to stop the EU from allowing ships carrying whale meat to dock in its ports, including Southampton in the UK.