Whale cargo no-dock win

By MELANIE GOSLING Time of article published Apr 14, 2014

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Cape Town -

Environmental activist group Greenpeace claims a ship carrying 2 000 tons of whale meat from Iceland was “scared off” from docking in Durban Harbour to refuel and take on supplies.

This comes after the group organised a petition that called on the local port authorities and other government departments not to allow the Alma cargo ship to enter our harbours.

SA Greenpeace spokeswoman Shanaaz Nel said on Sunday: “The ship was scared off because 21 000 people signed that petition.

‘The Alma knew if they had come to Durban we would have been waiting for them at the harbour. They recognised they were not welcome. We would have intercepted them.”

The activist group said the freezer ship Alma had taken on a cargo of whale meat, including “two species of fin whale”, in Iceland and was en route to Japan. Asked how they knew there was whale meat on board, she replied:

“Our international team has been monitoring the Alma and has been in touch with the agents and the ship.

Three weeks ago the International Federation for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) issued a statement which said a stockpile of whale meat was being loaded on to the Alma, a Cypriot-registered freezer ship, in Iceland.”

The animal rights group said there was a “lone whaling crusader” in Iceland who was trying to ship an estimated 2 000 tons of fin whale meat out of the country.

The Icelandic government, in turn, had issued new quotas which would allow 229 minke whales and 154 endangered fin whales to be harpooned each year for the next five years.

Nel said Greenpeace had been in contact with the Department of Environment Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, appealing to the departments not to let the ship dock.

“South Africa is a signatory to Cites and they don’t allow trade in whale meat,” she said.

However, Environment Affairs spokesman Zolile Nqayi said yesterday the department had played no role.

“Cites regulations are very clear and none of these was transgressed. There was no request for an import permit here or certificate for introduction from the sea,” Nqayi said.

And fisheries said the vessel had not involved their department either. Spokesman Lionel Adendorf said the Alma was not a fishing vessel, its cargo of whale meat had not been caught in local waters and it had not intended to off-load its cargo at any local port.

“As a result of this, the department did not receive any application for a permit to allow it into our waters or ports,” Adendorf said.

Fin whales are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

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