Hong Kong grocery chain 759 Store has apologised for selling whale meat, which is banned in the SAR. The retail chain has also removed the product from its shelves.
A photo posted on Facebook Page HKWildlife on Thursday shows cans labelled “whale curry” being sold at a 759 Store at New Town Commercial Arcade in Tuen Mun.
759 Store told HKFP that its merchandising team had made a mistake in importing “a small amount” of products containing whale meat.
Sonia Cheung Wing-yu, the retail chain’s promotions department (community relations) manager, told HKFP: “759 Store respects and understands the importance of protecting animal rights, and supports the Hong Kong government in banning the importing of whale meat.”
“We have taken products off the shelves,” she added.
The store also said its Japanese merchandiser has apologised. “He imported the whale meat for stores that Japanese customers [in Hong Kong] frequent,” Cheung said.
According to Cheung, Tuen Mun has a Japanese expat population who frequent the branch at the New Town Commercial Arcade.
759 Store’s CEO Lam Wai-chun asked HKFP if the company should destroy the cans of whale meat or donate them to charities in need.
Alex Hofford, wildlife campaigner at WildAid, told HKFP: “759 Store should return the dead whale products… and demand an immediate refund. They should then alert the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to carry out follow up enforcement action for CITES-related criminal offences.”
“It is unacceptable that with our oceans in crisis, whale and shark products be consumed at all,” he said.
The trading of whale meat and whale products is banned in Hong Kong. Whaling is also prohibited in Hong Kong waters.
The company that produced the product listed the whale meat’s origin as Iceland.
Whaling has been criticised as cruel and unnecessary in a joint statement issued by 26 countries including the UK, US, Australia and 12 European Union countries.
In 2014, Icelandic whalers killed a total of 137 endangered fin whales as well as 24 minkes, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation.