Success For WDCS! Undercover Film Leads To Removal Of Whale Meat On Sale At Main Airport In IcelandAn undercover investigation into whale meat on sale at Iceland’s Keflavik airport, which prompted the UK Foreign Office to issue a warning to Britons who risk breaching international law, has led to the dramatic overnight removal of the meat from the airport’s Duty Free stores.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) revealed last week that Iceland was openly selling whale meat packaged for export in the departure area at Keflavik airport to travellers who, if they made the purchase, risked arrest for importing an internationally protected species.
Representatives from WDCS and AWI, who were travelling to the US, caught store staff at the airport on camera giving erroneous advice that the whale meat could be legally taken into the United States. In fact, such citizens could face arrest and prosecution under several U.S. laws for illegal wildlife trade. Travellers returning with whale meat to the UK, European Union or many other nations that comply with a ban on international trade in whale products would face similar penalties.
Tens of thousands of UK tourists who visit Iceland each year have now been given the warning by the Foreign Office which states that tourists risk penalties that include imprisonment or fines of up to £5,000 as importation into Britain and other EU countries is illegal under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).
“It is impossible that Iceland is unaware of laws that prohibit imports of whale meat,” said Chris Butler-Stroud, CEO of WDCS. “Iceland is making a mockery of international law.”
WDCS has recently been running an awareness campaign directed at tourists visiting Iceland after revealing that a staggering 35–40% of the meat from minke whales slaughtered by Icelandic whalers is eaten by tourists visiting the country, most of whom have no idea that their actions are propping up commercial whaling in Iceland.
Despite the removal of the meat on sale at the airport, WDCS reminds the public that the meat is still on sale in other stores in Iceland and urges tourists to avoid purchasing or eating whale meat in other locations in the country.
Within hours of the UK Foreign Office updating its travel advice to British tourists (warning that they faced possible imprisonment or fines of up to £5,000 if they brought home whale meat), staff at the airport withdrew the meat from sale.
US Department of State has now also issued an official warning to US citizen not to risk jail time by bringing whale meat into the US.
Despite the withdrawal of meat from sale at the airport itself, WDCS urges tourists to avoid purchasing or eating whale meat in other locations in the country.