Seafood producers in both Norway and Japan are turning to new ways of peddling whale-based products, in the hopes of boosting sagging markets for whale meat. Their so-called “whale burgers,” however, are already being blasted by anti-whaling groups.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society of the UK has issued warnings against the whale burgers, calling Norway’s and Japan’s efforts to market “fast food” whale products “an attempt to revive a dying industry.”
Whalers, their opponents claim, are hoping to cash in on “their governments’ stated intentions to dramatically increase whaling quotas.”
Sales of whale products have indeed declined in Norway in recent years, and one seafood producer on the scenic Lofoten archipelago is among those hoping to turn that around. The Karsten Ellingsen Co recently launched its new whale products, targeted at a new generation of consumers.
Ellingsen’s “Lofotburger,” billed as “tasty and tender” on Ellingsen’s web site is made from minke whale meat and pork, in equal portions, and billed as “already spiced” and ready for the grill.
Ellingsen is also marketing “Lofotskinke,” which it calls “pastrami,” under the slogan “wild meat from the sea.” It says the “pastrami” is made from sliced whale meat with just 1 percent fat.
Ellingsen also sells whale steaks in “chosen stores” in Nordland, Troms and Finnmark counties.
Company chief Ulf Ellingsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) this week that he chooses to see the international criticism as free publicity.
“People will become more and more curious,” Ellingsen said. “I don’t think people will let themselves be scared off by the criticism.”
Others hope he’s wrong. “We are at an alarming crossroads for whales,” Susan Lieberman, director of the Global Species Program for World Wildlife Fund International, told the Washngton Post in June. “Just as their populations are beginning to recover from being hunted almost to extinction, Japan and pro-whaling nations are closer than they have ever been to being able to push forward with their efforts to end the whaling moratorium.”
Photo: Frode Pederson