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Updated 09 April 2014

Whale meat off the menu

Japan's biggest online marketer of whale and elephant products announces an end to whale meat sales, but continues to advertise ivory.

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In a triumph for environmental and animal rights activism, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has bowed to international pressure and announced it will stop selling whale and dolphin meat by the end of April 2014.

The announcement came soon after the United Nations International Court of Justice (IRC) ruled against Japan’s "scientific" whaling in the Antarctic.

The IRC found that Japan’s whaling in the Antarctic (JARPA II) did not comply with the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW).

IRC has ruled that Japan must revoke all whaling permits relating to JARPA II, and not grant any further such permits.

'Blood e-Commerce'

Also influential was a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Humane Society International (HSI), "Blood e-Commerce", which in March 2014 exposed Rakuten as the world’s biggest online marketplace for elephant ivory and whale meat products.

A statement announcing the decision to stop whale product sales was posted on Rakuten's web site, which read:

“In accordance with the March 31, 2014 ruling by the International Court of Justice, Rakuten Ichiba today asked merchants to cancel sales of whale meat products on the Rakuten Ichiba marketplace. Rakuten has also requested these merchants to remove all related items from their online shops within the next 30 days."


A previous advertisement for whale meat on the Rakuten website

Rakuten still selling ivory


Rakuten is still the biggest online marketer of elephant ivory, however, and the EIA and other animal rights and environmental groups urge the public to continue to exert pressure to get this practice stopped also.


Ivory seals for sale on the Ratuken web site.

See the EIA's Action Alert for practical ways to raise awareness and demand Ratuken end ivory sales.

References:
EIA press release, April 2014. 'Internet giant Rakuten pulls the plug on whale meat sales'.
IRC press release, March 2014. 'Whaling in the Antarctic'

Read more:

SeaWorld urged to stop using killer whales in shows
6 foods to avoid when travelling

Olivia Rose-Innes is Health24’s EnviroHealth Editor. Read more of her columns and articles or post a question to her expert forum.

 
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