A scientific committee said a stockpile of about 500 tonnes of blubber
in freezer warehouses in northern Norway contained dangerously high
levels of banned PCB industrial chemicals.
consumption of whale blubber would lead to unacceptable levels of
PCBs," Janneche Utne Skaare, deputy director of the National
Veterinary Institute and a scientist on the panel, told Reuters.
or polychlorinated biphenyls, were formerly used in everything from
paint to plastics. They build up in fatty tissues, especially in
people and animals in polar areas and have been linked to birth
resumed the commercial hunting of minke whales in 1993, breaking
with an international moratorium. The creamy fat was long seen as
a potential goldmine if exported to Japan, where it is a delicacy
worth perhaps $20 per kg (2.2 lbs).
conceded that the scientists' recommendation to ban blubber consumption
among Norwegians - which has to be approved by health authorities
- would scupper hopes of selling the fat to Japan. Norwegians only
eat minke whale meat, which has far lower PCB levels than fat.
whalers will probably go back to dumping the blubber overboard,"
said Rune Froevik of the High North Alliance, which represents interests
of Arctic fishing communities. "It'll be crab food."
possible uses for blubber are in heating oil, food for foxes and
other animals in fur farms.
limiting whale consumption to Norwegians, Oslo gave whalers permission
to export minke meat and blubber in 2001 in defiance of a ban on
trade in endangered species.
2001, whalers have exported some meat to Iceland but blubber exports
have been stalled by demands for a genetic tracking system and by
Japanese consumer worries that whales caught in the North Atlantic
have high PCB levels.
said that Norwegian tests showed that one gram (0.035 ounce) of
minke blubber had about 95 picograms of PCB-related pollutants,
almost a tenth of the maximum weekly intake under European Union
guidelines. A picogram is a trillionth of a gram.