WHALES ON THE NET
BERLIN, 18 June, 2003 [AFP] - Whale and dolphin meat is being sold in pet food in Japan, thus negating Tokyo's controversial claim that it needs more whale meat, three environmental groups charged on Wednesday.
They said analysis carried out earlier this year on samples of pet food purchased near Tokyo revealed levels of both Antarctic minke whale and dolphin meat.
"The fact that Japan is using whale meat for pet foods totally invalidates Japan's attempts to legitimise and increase their catches," said Clare Perry, of the British non-governmental Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
The EIA issued its statement in conjunction with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and the Humane Society of the United States on the margins of the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) annual meeting in Berlin.
It came as Japan prepared to submit proposals to the IWC asking that two coastal communities be allowed to hunt a total of 150 Bryde's and 150 minke whales a year.
Japan says the communities rely on whaling for their existence.
Opponents say the proposals are merely an excuse for commercial whaling.
Sue Fisher of the WDCS said: "We hear the same rhetoric year after year about distressed coastal whaling communities, and now we find that whales are being used as pet food."
The analysis was carried out by Frank Cipriano, a professor at San Francisco State University, on samples of pet food purchased by the EIA in February from supermarkets in Shizuoka and Otsuchi, near Tokyo.
DNA analysis showed that dried dog food from Shizuoka contained Antarctic minke and a packaged dog food product purchased in Otsuchi contained dolphin DNA.
Japan allows the hunting of up to 700 whales a year for what it claims is scientific research, although opponents claim it is a pretext for commercial whaling. -Sapa-AFP