Whale meat withdrawn from sale at Iceland airport

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Conservationists have claimed a small victory after they won a battle against Iceland openly selling whale products.

Defying a world-wide ban on trade in whale products, Iceland was found selling whale meat in its airport despite strict laws preventing its trade.

Within hours of the UK foreign Office issuing a warning that people buying whale meat would face prosecution, the shop in the departure lounge of Iceland’s international Keflavik airport had withdrawn the meat from sale.

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society issued a statement last week after they sent undercover staff to investigate claims about the meat being sold in Iceland’s international Keflavik airport:

"Representatives of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) recently purchased Minke whale meat steaks at the 'Inspired by Iceland' store in the departure lounge of the international airport. The purchases took place on two separate occasions, one week apart, and in both cases staff at the airport store gave false information to purchasers".

"Store staff told the AWI and WDCS representatives that they could legally import the product into the United States when, in fact, they would face arrest and prosecution under several U.S. laws for illegal wildlife trade. Travellers returning with whale meat to the UK or many other nations that comply with a ban on international trade in whale products would face similar penalties."

A recent survey by WDCS showed that a massive 35-40% of all whale meat products from Iceland are actually eaten by tourists visiting the country and CEO of WDCS Chris Stroud has urged US President Obama to block the import of all Icelandic products until they end commercial whaling.

In the UK the Foreign Office has issued a warning to the 70,000 UK tourists visiting Iceland annually, that bringing home whale meat breaches international laws under CITES and as such they could be subject to fines of up to £5,000 or even imprisonment. The meat was promptly removed following a media furore.

A WCDS spokesperson quoted in the Guardian said: "We ask people who are thinking of going to Iceland to resist the temptation to give the meat a try despite what you may be told by local whale hunters. The fact is that only a small percentage of Icelandic people eat the meat these days. The whales suffer a long and slow death, they are not suitable as a species for human harvesting and, contrary to myth, they are not responsible for reducing local fish stocks."

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