The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has recently released a report revealing the link between Talbots clothing stores and the sale of whale, porpoise and dolphin products across Japan by their parent company JUSCO, one of Japan's largest supermarket operators. Talbots Inc., a retailer of women's specialty clothing since 1947, owns and operates 733 stores in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. In June 1988, JUSCO USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Japanese retail conglomerate JUSCO Co. Ltd. (JUSCO), purchased the Talbots franchise. JUSCO USA currently owns approximately 58.1% of the outstanding common stock in Talbots.
Since JUSCO acquired majority ownership of the Talbots chain in 1988, more than a quarter of a million whales, dolphins and porpoises have been killed by Japanese hunters in poorly regulated and unsustainable hunts. JUSCO's large distribution chain has enabled the Japanese whale and dolphin hunting industry to thrive in spite of repeated international censure.
EIA's recent investigations in Japan have established that JUSCO's supermarket chain is a large distributor of whale and dolphin meat and blubber, with products being sold in hundreds of stores throughout Japan. EIA surveyed 388 JUSCO owned supermarkets in Japan and found that almost half sold whale meat. Subsequent site visits across Japan revealed whale, dolphin or porpoise meat on sale in 22 out of 37 stores. JUSCO supermarkets sell whale meat from protected minke whales hunted in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary and the Pacific Ocean; they also sell dolphin and porpoise meat from coastal populations that are threatened or in decline. DNA analysis of samples taken from JUSCO supermarkets revealed minke whale, bottlenose dolphin, Dall's porpoise, short-finned pilot whale and sei whale (a species that has been internationally protected since 1986).
Not only does JUSCO USA own Talbots, the two companies are also closely united in corporate governance. Four of the nine Directors on the Talbots Board hold key executive offices within JUSCO or JUSCO USA. Talbots is inextricably linked to JUSCO, and EIA is calling on the Board of Talbots to persuade its parent company (JUSCO) to ban the sale of all whale, dolphin and porpoise products in its stores permanently.