May 30 2013

Guardian: Japanese firm stops selling endangered whale pet treats

Newswire | Published 30 May 2013, 10:05 am | Comments Off on Guardian: Japanese firm stops selling endangered whale pet treats -

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A Japanese firm has stopped selling luxury pet food made from endangered fin whales, following a campaign by conservation groups.

Michinoku Farm, based in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, had advertised jerky-like snacks for dogs made from North Atlantic fin whales imported from Iceland. The treats were removed from its website hours after protests from four groups, including the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) in the US.

Michinoku’s president, Takuma Konno, said he had decided to pull the product even though its sale is legal in Japan.

“Dogs are like family members for many people in Japan. We just wanted to sell a wide variety of food for dogs,” he told the AFP news agency. “Campaigners look at whales as important animals, but we consider dogs to be just as important.

“Maybe I was ignorant of the debate over whaling, but it’s not worth selling the product if it risks angering some people.”

The firm, which also sells pet snacks made from kangaroo and Mongolian horse, had been selling the whale chews in packets of three sizes, including a 500g bag for 3,780 yen (£25).

Japan has imported Icelandic fin whale for human consumption since 2008, but appears to have moved into the pet food business amid a dramatic decline in consumption of all types of whale meat among diners.

“The most likely reason for shops to sell the whalemeat dog treat is to target affluent Japanese who want to show off their wealth with something different,” said Nanami Kurasawa, executive director of the Japan-based Dolphin and Whale Action Network. “The product description identifies the meat as being fin whale of Icelandic origin. Its use in pet food suggests that new markets are being explored.”

Susan Milward, executive director of AWI, said: “We are extremely pleased to see Michinoku Farm respond in such a progressive, compassionate and prompt manner, and we would strongly urge all other businesses to follow suit and end such sales.”

Similar products are still available elsewhere on the internet, however, including through Rakuten, Japan’s biggest online retailer.

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