Gorton’s Parent Company Pulls Out of Whaling Business

Seafood Giant Felt Pressure from Consumers and Environmental Groups

WASHINGTON- Following pressure from consumers and groups such as Greenpeace, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Environmental Investigation Agency, Nissui, parent company of seafood giant Gorton’s of Gloucester confirmed today its intentions to divest interests in Kyodo Senpaku, which owns and operates the Japanese whaling fleet. Nissui, which owns one third of the Japanese whaling company, said it would divest its shares as early as mid- April and move immediately to end its canning and sales of whale meat. This announcement comes as the other two major shareholders in Kyodo Senpaku also pulled shares from the company.

“There is simply no future for selling whale meat anywhere in the world and no public support or tolerance for Japan’s illegal whale killing,” said John Hocevar, Greenpeace Oceans Specialist. “Obviously, Nissui and Gorton’s realized that staying in the whale killing business was bad business, affecting not only their bottom line but their reputation.”

Greenpeace and other groups had been calling on Gorton’s to use its connections with Nissui to end its 70-year ties to whaling. Since Nissui purchased Gorton’s in 2001, more than 2,700 whales have been killed by Kyoto Senpaku under the guise of scientific research. Although Gorton’s initially denied evidence of Nissui’s ties to whaling, the company began to receive countless petitions denouncing its ties to whaling from consumers across the nation. Additionally, some grocery stores stopped carrying Gorton’s products. In a recent letter to concerned consumers, Gorton’s stated that it had urged Nissui to sever its connections to whaling and pressure Japan to end its whaling program.

“Today’s announcement is more a milestone than a victory,” said Hocevar. “It proves that support for whaling has vanished even among the companies that once profited from it, leaving the Japanese government completely isolated in its efforts to sustain this cruel and pointless enterprise.”

In spite of a global ban on commercial whaling, six Japanese whaling ships left on November 8 for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in Antarctica, using the guise of research to justify the hunt. Greenpeace activists who confronted Japan’s whaling fleet during this season’s hunt witnessed firsthand the inhumane nature of the killings.

“The images of the senseless whale killings were truly heartbreaking,” said Nathan Santry, an activist who was part of Greenpeace’s protest against the whaling fleet earlier this year. “Japan’s whaling has been exposed-it is not science, it is slaughter and it is illegal.”

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling in 1986. However, Japan continues to exploit a loophole that allows whaling for “scientific” purposes. The Japanese government has not responded to protests from around the world or to the International Whaling Commission, which has repeatedly called on Japan to abandon its whaling program.