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<b><i>LONDON (Reuters) - Japan's stock of whale meat from hunting for scientific research is so large that the country has begun selling it as dog food, a leading marine conservation organisation said on Friday.<br><br><br><br>
The charity the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) said Japan's whale meat stocks had doubled over the past 10 years as it increased the number of animals it killed every year, despite a global ban on commercial hunting.<br><br><br><br>
"Whaling is a cruel activity and the fact that Japan is killing these amazing animals to produce dog food is shocking," said WDCS science director Mark Simmonds.<br><br><br><br>
"We have heard many arguments from Japan over the years about why whaling is necessary to them but they have never stated that they needed to kill whales to feed their dogs."<br><br><br><br>
Japan abandoned commercial whaling in 1986, in line with an international moratorium, but began catching whales again the following year for what it calls scientific research.<br><br><br><br>
The WDCS said Japan's stockpile of whale meat stood at 4,800 tonnes last year compared with 673 tonnes in March 1998, and that this year it had doubled its hunt of minke whales as well as adding humpback and fin whales to the tally.<br><br><br><br>
It estimated that this could add a further 1,700 tonnes of whale meat to the already bursting warehouses.<br><br><br><br>
In an attempt to shift the rising whale meat mountains, Japan had already resorted to subsidising sales of whale burgers and whale meat in school menus, but prices were falling steadily due to the surplus.<br><br><br><br>
Now, WDCS said, it had found a Web site advertising whale meat for pet food, extolling its virtues as "organic" and "safe and healthy" coming from factories already processing whale meat for human consumption.<br><br><br><br>
"WDCS hopes that the overt use of whales for dog food in Japan will expose its scientific whaling programme as a politically motivated sham," the organisation said on its Web site <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</i></b><br><br><br><br><a href="" target="_blank"></a><br><br><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/mad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":mad:">
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