"Icelandic whalers"in Reykjavik  (Photo: Wurzeller - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons)Last sunday, August 30th, the Icelandic cargo ship Winter Bay (but flying the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis), arrived in Osaka with about 1,800 tons of fin whale meat. The cargo left Iceland on June 4 and stopped at Tromso before leaving the northern Norway city's port on Aug. 1. It then traveled through the Arctic Ocean accompanied by a Russian icebreaker, reports the "JapananTime". It is the very first time a a major cargo shipment of seafood has made its way through the Northern Sea Route (NSR). However, the reason why the cargo took the "Arctic way" instead of the longer "Southern Route" (around South Africa,via Cape of Good Hope), is not to be found  within the standard advantages often listed by scholars in regards of using the NSR (shorter distance, fuel and money saving, less emissions...). The reason was actually to avoid obstruction by anti-whaling groups in Europe and in the Indian Ocean, and peacefully sailing off the whaling-friendly nations of Norway and Russia.  Indeed, as Newsweek reports: "the Winter Bay still ran into scrutiny while docking in Tromsø, Norway, where the international anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd attempted but failed to stop it. Pamela Anderson (among others) unsuccessfully petitioned Russian authorities to prevent the shipment", while, according with The "Japanan Times", "a nongovernmental organization based in Europe and the United States also sent a petition with a million signatures to the government of St. Kitts and Nevis calling for the vessel to be stripped of its registration". 

Fin whales are listed as "endangered species" under the International Union for Conservation of Nature, therefore "the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)" makes it illegal to transport the meat of this animal. This rule however, does not apply to Iceland, Norway and Japan. 

(source: Japan Times, Newsweek)

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