Japanese company Michinoku Farm had stopped selling luxury dog treats made from endangered North Atlantic whale meat after a campaign by environmentalist groups.
Michinoku Farm, based in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, had advertised jerky-like snacks for dogs made from 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, the international press reports.
On the company’s website, the meat was described as a “low calorie, low fat, high protein” snack.
Although the president of Michinoku Farm, Takuma Konno, said the company’s activity was legal in Japan, he had decided to pull the product.
“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 over whaling, but it’s not worth selling the product if it risks angering some people.”
“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.”
Michinoku Farm also sells treats made of Mongolian horses and kangaroos meat. The whale chews were sold in three different sized packets, with a 60 gram bag selling for Y609 yen ($6.25) and a 500 gram bag for Y3,780.