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Tesco-owned store sells whale meat in Japan

The Environmental Investigation Agency

3rd March 2004

Leading UK retailer, Tesco PLC, has been closely linked to the sale of products from Japan’s controversial hunting of whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans), revealed the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace today.

EIA investigations have revealed that C Two-Network, a Japanese supermarket chain and a member of the Tesco Group, sells canned cetaceans products in 32 of its 78 stores and fresh cetaceans products in 10 stores. Tesco purchased almost 95% of the Japanese company in July 2003.

The canned products are sourced from the Nissui and Kyokuyo whaling companies. These companies own shares in the whaling fleet used for Japan’s self-professed 'scientific' whaling research and sell much of the meat from the hundreds of minke, Bryde’s and sei whales that are killed each year in the name of science. According to staff working at the supermarkets, C Two-Network also sells fresh meat from 'toothed whales', a generic term for dolphins, porpoises, and small whales hunted in Japan’s coastal waters.

Japan's scientific whaling has been strongly and repeatedly criticised by the UK Government and the international community and is widely recognised as commercial whaling. Japan’s coastal hunting of dolphins, porpoises and small whales is poorly regulated and unsustainable. Meat and blubber products from these hunts typically carry levels of methylmercury or PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) that exceed government recommended limits, posing a health threat to the consumer.

Clare Perry, EIA Cetacean Campaigns Manager, said: "C Two-Network stores are selling internationally protected species, and as such, are not only sustaining the market for these products in Japan, but are supporting Japan’s refusal to abide by the international ban on commercial whaling. Tesco, by association, could be seen by the public to be condoning these actions."

Greenpeace Ocean Campaigner, Richard Page said: "We are appealing to Tesco to use its ownership of C Two-Network to bring about an end to the sale of cetacean products in C Two-Network stores. Tesco’s UK customers will be appalled to learn that Tesco is so closely linked to the sale of whale meat."