German customs officials have seized whale meat snacks on sale at a Norwegian stall during a trade fair organised to celebrate trends in food, gardening and agriculture.
Arne Andres Rod, the stall’s supervisor, claimed he was surprised to learn that it was illegal to sell whale meat in Germany. He said they brought the whale snacks to the fair with the aim of showcasing Norway’s variety, adding that they got them through customs without any problems.
The sale of whale meat is against the law in Germany and across most of the EU. The Whale and Dolphin Society’s Astrid Fuchs said that Norway has broken the law in two ways: first importing, then selling the meat. The Berlin state prosecutor’s office has now taken on the case, and the perpetrators could face up to five years in prison; however, it is more likely they will be handed a fine.
The snacks, thought to be minke whale, were on sale at Berlin’s Green Week trade fair for two euros a plate. They were offered in marinated or smoked form and came with a blueberry or chilli dip.
Witnesses revealed that stall had labelled them as whale meat, proving that the stall supervisors were not trying to cover up what they were selling. Custom officials seized 3kgs of the meat, but 4kgs had already been sold at the fair.
The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, but Norway and Iceland lodged objections to the ruling in the 90s. Nowadays, Norway sets itself an annual quota for how many whales it can kill commercially per year. Last year, the number was set at 1,286.