Endangered whale meat sold as luxury dog snacks in Japan
Sales of the snacks, made from North Atlantic fin whales, have angered environmental activists who have criticised the use of endangered whale meat for exotic pet food.
Japan has long been in the firing line from environmentalists for continuing to hunt endangered whales under a loophole in an international moratorium, while Iceland openly defies the ban.
“The most likely reason for shops to sell the whale meat dog treat is to target affluent Japanese who want to show off their wealth with something different,” said Nanami Kurasawa, executive director of IKAN, the Japanese campaign group.
“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.
“As Iceland prepares to hunt over 180 fin whales in 2013 for this export market, NGOs question the environmental and economic logic of using meat from an endangered species for the manufacture of dog treats.”
Japan is famously home to some of the world’s most pampered dogs, with a growing number of industries catering to luxury pet services, from expensive fashion and activities such as yoga to high-end food treats.
The controversial whale meat snacks, sold by the Tokyo-based company Michinoku Farm, are available in three different sizes, ranging from a 60g bag costing £4 (609 yen) to 500 gram bag for £25 (3,780 yen).
Takuma Konno, the president of Michinoki Farm – which also sells Mongolian horse meat and kangaroo snacks for pets – confirmed that he was withdrawing the whale meat dog chews as a result of opposition from environmentalists but defended his initial decision to put them on sale.
“Dogs are like family members for many people in Japan. We just wanted to sell a wide variety of food for dogs,” he said.
“Campaigners look at whales as important animals, but we consider dogs to be just as important.
“Maybe I was ignorant of the debate (about whaling), but it’s not worth selling the product if it risks disturbing some people.”