"Japan's Biggest Online Retailer, Rakuten, Ends Whale Meat Sales"

"Announcement comes after campaigners shamed company over issue and international court banned Southern Ocean hunt"

"OSAKA -- The Japanese online retailer Rakuten is to end all online sales of whale and dolphin meat by the end of April after the international court of justice ordered Japan to immediately halt its annual whale hunts in the southern ocean.

The decision by Rakuten comes soon after the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) exposed the company as the world’s biggest online retailer of whale products and elephant ivory.

Rakuten said it had asked sellers to cancel sales of whale meat products on its website “in accordance” with the ICJ ruling. Monday’s verdict in the Hague, however, did not cover whale meat sales in Japan, which are legal, or the country’s slaughter of a smaller number of whales in the north-west Pacific and in its own coastal waters.

Clare Perry, an EIA senior campaigner, said: “The removal of thousands of ads for whale products is a very welcome step and a clear recognition by Rakuten that selling the meat of endangered and protected whales and dolphins is seriously harmful to both its global reputation and customers’ health." In its Blood E-Commerce report [PDF] the conservation group said tests had revealed that some cetacean products advertised by Rakuten contained levels of mercury up to 20 times higher than the Japanese regulatory limit."

Justin McCurry reports for the Guardian April 4, 2014.

Friday, April 4, 2014