A ship carrying 1,816 tons of whale meat from Iceland arrived Sunday in the port of Osaka, coming for the first time via the Arctic Ocean to avoid obstruction by anti-whaling groups in the Indian Ocean.
The ship, flying the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis, brought whale meat equivalent to around 40 percent of Japan’s annual consumption. It triggered opposition from Greenpeace Japan, which said the meat amounted to 137 fin whales caught in Iceland last year.
The fin whale is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, of which Japan is a member.
People involved in the shipment said they aim to make the Arctic Ocean route the main seaway to transport whale meat to Japan.
The traditional route for importing Icelandic whale meat has used South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and the Indian Ocean.
The cargo ship 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.
While it was anticipated that the route via the Arctic Ocean would be generally peaceful, as the ship would sail off the whaling-friendly nations of Norway and Russia, the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd tried to stop the vessel from leaving Tromso.
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.