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Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 09:39 GMT
Norway lifts whale meat export ban
Norwegian ship
A minke whale is brought aboard a Norwegian ship
The Norwegian Government has decided to lift its ban on the export of whale meat and blubber.

Japan - which also practises whaling - has welcomed the decision.

But the move has been criticised by environmentalists, who say some of the meat will come from species which are endangered.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Thorbjoern Jagland, defended the move, saying the current levels of the hunted species were good enough to allow the exports.

Export countries

Most of the exports are expected to be to Japan, Peru and Iceland.

These countries, like Norway, have refused to ratify the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species accord, which listed whales as an endangered.

Mr Jagland said that as Norwegians ate the meat from whales, while the Japanese considered the fatty outer layer of blubber as a delicacy, it would be wasteful not to export it.

He dismissed suggestions that the decision to lift the ban may damage the country's international standing and harm its other export industries.

Environmentalists angered

Frode Pleym of Greenpeace was angered by the move and warned it would also make it easier to smuggle illegal whale meat.

"They should have based their decision on the environmental aspects. The risk of illegal hunting of endangered whale species will increase," he said.

"The Norwegian Government opening for exports may be even more serious than Norway resuming the commercial hunts," he added.

Norway resumed commercial whale hunts in 1993, despite a global moratorium on the practice.

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See also:

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Saving the whale from space
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Japanese whalers sail despite row
14 Sep 00 | Americas
Japan condemns US anti-whaling move
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Whaling ban stays - for now
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