Whale Meat Sold at Berlin Green Week

Norwegian vendors say they did not realize whale meat was illegal
Customs officers confiscated whale meat that was being sold at Berlin's Green Week.

Berlin's International Green Week began January 17, and numerous vendors came from near and far to display their wares at the international food and agriculture trade fair. But one of the vendors was shut down Wednesday after customs officials realized they'd set up a booth vending snacks made of illegal whale meat with blueberry sauce. 

Whale meat is illegal in Germany, as in many countries, but the Norwegian vendor of the Minke whale snacks said they had no idea the whale meat would pose a problem. According to The Local, Norway is one of the few countries that allows the sale of whale meat. 

“We are surprised that selling it is illegal here,” said stand manager Arne Andreas Rød. 

The booth opened on Monday, when it began selling the marinated, bite-sized whale meat chunks with a blueberry dipping sauce for €2. The snacks were not mislabeled or sold secretly; clear signs indicated that the dishes were made of whale. That caught the eye of Germany's Whale and Dolphin Conservation group, which found out about the sale and notified customs authorities. Customs agents showed up to investigate, and they confiscated three kilos of the illicit meat and shut the stand down. 

"Norway has broken numerous laws," said Astrid Fuchs of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation group. "I was really surprised to find it on sale. The environment ministry couldn't believe it either."

The state prosecutor's office is investigating the sellers for "import, export, and sale" of the meat. If tried and convicted, the sellers could face a sizable fine and up to five years in prison. 

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