Twenty one major airlines , including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, KLM and Sabena, have pledged to Greenpeace that they will not carry whale meat and blubber on their aircraft. All British airlines flying out of Oslo, Norway's principal airport, have joined the air blockade. The move comes during preparations by Norway to resume the export and sale of whale meat and blubber to Japan and two weeks before the International Whaling Commission meets in London.
In January 2001, the Norwegian Government decided to ignore international agreements and announced it would allow the export of minke whale products. This is despite the fact that minke whales are listed on Appendix 1 of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which bans international trade in this species.
Norway's domestic market for whale meat is already saturated and there is no market at all for whale blubber. In Japan however there is still a demand for whale products to supply a luxury market. A pound of high quality raw whale meat may fetch up to £85.
The international blockade of whale products by air carriers will cause a major logistical headache for Norwegian attempts to trade in blubber and meat, and focuses world attention on an unacceptable practice. Greenpeace is currently writing to other major airlines and carriers seeking assurances that they will not carry whale products.
Richard Page, Greenpeace Whale Campaigner, said:
"The extent to which Norway is prepared to ride roughshod over international agreements and public opinion worldwide is shocking. History shows us that commercial whaling always leads to the devastation of whale populations. The resumption of an international trade in whale meat and blubber will only encourage 'pirate' whaling and spell disaster for both abundant and endangered species of whales alike."
"The fact that major airlines will not carry whale meat and blubber sends a clear message to the Norwegian Government that their plans for trafficking in whale products are unacceptable to international opinion. They should immediately reconsider their plans and respect international agreements."
Norway and Japan are expected to attempt to weaken the moratorium on commercial whaling at the body that regulates whaling, the International Whaling Commission, when it meets July 23 - 27 in London.
Notes to editors:
- The following airlines have assured Greenpeace that they will not carry whale products: Air Malta, Crossair Hauptsitz (Switzerland), Czech Airlines, British Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa(Germany), KLM (Dutch), Austrian Airlines, LOT(Poland), Swissair, Tyrolean Airways(Austrian), Air 2000(British), Air Europa Lineas Aereas S.A.(Balearic Islands), Britainnia, Spanair, Sterling European(Denmark), Finnair, Iran Air, Air France, Sabena(Belgium), Maleu (Hungry), Onur Air (Turkey)
The following airlines would give no assurance to Greenpeace that they would not carry whale products: SAS (Sweden/Norway), Widere (Norway), Icelandair (Iceland), Braathens (Norway), Coast Air (Norway).
Greenpeace UK press office: 020 7865 8255/6/7/8