LONDON: An alliance of 13 leading conservation groups is this week urging major buyers at Europe’s biggest seafood trade show not to do business with Icelandic seafood company HB Grandi because of its strong links to whaling.
HB Grandi is controlled by the whaling and investment company Hvalur hf, which plans to kill 770 endangered fin whales during the next five years and sell the resulting meat and blubber to Japan.
The opening of the 2014 Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global trade event in Brussels today coincides with the arrival in Japan of a shipment of more than 2,000 tonnes of Icelandic whale products, including fin whale meat—cut, packed and prepared for export at an HB Grandi facility in Akranes, Iceland.
Several businesses with links to Hvalur are exhibiting at Seafood Expo, including HB Grandi and a number of its subsidiaries.
The 13 organizations have written to major European wholesalers and retailers that source Icelandic seafood, urging them to audit their supply chains to reassure customers that they are not buying fish from companies linked to whaling, in particular HB Grandi.
This European campaign comes a little more than a month after a similar effort was launched in the US under the banner “Don’t buy from Icelandic whalers,” As a result of those efforts, High Liner Foods and other companies have committed not to enter into new contracts with HB Grandi, and have stated their opposition to commercial whaling.
Clare Perry, senior campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said: “HB Grandi seafood products are tainted with the blood of fin whales hunted by the whaling company Hvalur. We are calling on European seafood buyers to publicly state their opposition to whaling and demonstrate their commitment to the protection of whales through their purchasing decisions.”
Chris Butler-Stroud, chief executive of Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), stated: “As pressure mounts against commercial whaling, WDC calls upon European seafood purchasers to recognize widespread public revulsion at the links between HB Grandi and fin whaling in Iceland and to source their seafood elsewhere.”
Susan Millward, executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), added: “It’s time for Iceland to join with the modern world and stop the madness of commercial whaling—European seafood buyers and their customers can stop putting money into the pockets of whalers and help convince Iceland to end its whaling by making informed and compassionate seafood purchasing decisions.”
The 2014 Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global event in Brussels runs from May 6-8 and is expected to attract 25,000 participants from 145 countries.
Notes for editors
1. Belgium, France, Germany and the UK represent more than a third of HB Grandi seafood exports, according to a recent prospectus prepared for the company’s launch on the Nordic Nasdaq stock market in late April 2014.
2. Iceland is one of only three nations that continue to engage in commercial whaling, in defiance of a moratorium imposed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1982. In December 2013, Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries announced a five year block quota which could result in the deaths of nearly 2,000 whales, including 770 endangered fin whales.
3. Since it resumed whaling in 2003, Iceland has exported approximately 5,000 tonnes of whale products to Japan and elsewhere, in defiance of a ban on international commercial trade in whale products imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
4. The 2,000-tonne whale meat shipment to Japan was sent via the Alma, a 4,000-dwt refrigerated cargo ship, which left Iceland in late March and has been making its way to Japan along a circuitous route via Africa and the Indian Ocean. Previous whale meat shipments, via Rotterdam and Hamburg, met with opposition and Hvalur hf has been forced to find new ways to ship its products. The Alma was denied port in Durban, South Africa, given the concerns over trade in an endangered species.
5. HB Grandi’s Chair of the Board, Kristjan Loftsson, is both the CEO and a lead shareholder of Hvalur hf, Iceland’s principal whaling company.
6. The list of groups backing this effort are the Animal Welfare Institute, Cetacean Society International, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Greenpeace, the Nantucket Marine Mammal Conservation Program, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pro Wildlife, OceanCare, the Origami Whales Project, Robin des Bois, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the Whaleman Foundation, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.