An Amazon.com customer has created a petition calling for the world's largest online retailer to permanently ban the sale of whale and dolphin meat on its site.
An open letter to Amazon, posted to Change.org reads in part:
I know that not everyone can come to Japan to join me to speak out for dolphins and whales, but together we can convince Amazon to permanently stop selling all whale, dolphin, and porpoise products. If Amazon -- the largest online retailer in the world -- were to adopt a policy like this, it would send a clear message to the world.
Yes, a report published on February 21 by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Humane Society International states Amazon sells marine mammal meat, or at least it was selling over 100 cetacean food products on subsidiary site Amazon Japan prior to February 22.
After the report was published, the retailer pulled the links to all of the products containing marine mammal meat from its Japanese site.
According to The Guardian, the advocacy groups claimed that the selling of the meat, some of which reportedly came from endangered species, violated Amazon's policy against advertising unlicensed or illegal animal products.
While activists have called for Amazon to declare a permanent ban on these sales, the Seattle-based company has not given any indication that it plans to do so. According to a statement on the EIA website, the removal of cetacean food products was an "encouraging first step but doesn’t go far enough – we want the company to make a formal declaration that all whale, dolphin and porpoise products will be banned from all Amazon websites, permanently."
The Change.org petition, which has garnered over 9,000 signatures, was started by animal rights advocate and psychic communicator Melissa Sehgal. According to Sehgal's blog, she became interested in dolphin and whale advocacy after watching the documentary, "The Cove" and subsequently becoming a "Cove Guardian" in Taiji, Japan where the documentary was made.
"The Cove" is a 2009 documentary that depicts the annual capture and slaughter of hundreds of dolphins in a small cove in Japan.
Commercial whaling has been banned worldwide for 25 years, but according to the International Whaling Commission, Japan, Norway and Iceland are allowed special permits to kill a limited number of whales per year as part of their scientific research programs. While Norway and Iceland's kills have decreased drastically in recent years, Japan continues to take home around 1,000 whales during its annual research expeditions.
A few of the research goals outlined by Japan for its scientific permits include "improving the management procedure for Antarctic minke whale stocks" and "examination of the effect of environmental changes on cetaceans." Critics contend that these scientific expeditions are actually commercial whaling trips by a different name, the BBC reports.
Technorati states that Japan is strongly associated with whale meat even though it is not considered a delicacy by most Japanese. Time reported in 2001 that 61 percent of Japanese people had not tasted the dark, chewy meat since childhood.