By Emily Jackson
A 65,000-strong petition calling on the federal government to end shipments of endangered whale meat through Canadian territory got a boost from a Vancouver MP in the House of Commons on Thursday.
Vancouver Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies called on the minister of international trade to stop allowing fin whale meat to travel across the country by train on its way from Iceland to Japan, a practice that was revealed by Greenpeace in February to the shock of politicians and activists alike.
Canada has signed an international treaty vowing to protect endangered species, but there is a loophole that allows the shipment of endangered species across Canadian territory so long as the shipment remains in customs control.
“This minister has the power to stop this practice, if he wants to, just like the U.S. has done,” Davies said in Parliament, urging the Conservatives to close the loophole and not accept the whale meat in the first place. (Germany has also sent shipments of whale meat back to Iceland instead of letting it travel through its borders.)
Minister Ed Fast responded that he would take a look at the question and that Canada is against the trade in endangered species, but did not say much more.
Davies’ call for action comes after Greenpeace delivered the petition to Port Metro Vancouver headquarters on Tuesday.
Greenpeace is calling on the port to stop handling whale meat, regardless of the loophole.
But the port must follow the rules laid out for it by the federal government and the treaty it follows called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), spokesman John Parker-Jervis said in an emailed statement.
“Unfortunately, the convention provides an exemption,” Parker-Jervis said. “That being said, as Canada is a signatory to the convention, the shipment of meat from a CITES-listed species is inconsistent with Canada’s trade priorities and is something that Port Metro Vancouver does not support.”