TOKYO (UPI)-In a move that has enraged environmentalists, a fast food chain in Japan has begun offering a supersized "Blue Whale Burger" even as anti-whaling nations urged Japan to cut back on its whale catch at an international conference on whaling. The beautiful and mysterious blue whale is the world's largest mammal and is considered an endangered species, yet other American fast food restaurants including the Golden Arches are planning to offer similar whale burgers.
The Japanese fast food restaurant chain Lucky Parrot is serving the deep fried Blue Whale meat burger with lettuce and mayonnaise for $3.50 at its 110 restaurants on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, a whaling hub in the nation.
Yet Japan is facing increasing international condemnation for its so-called "research whaling program" in which the whales are killed supposedly in order to study them, while their meat is then commercially sold. Critics say it is actually commercial hunting in disguise.
Mikum Ohno, an owner of Lucky Parrot, said the chain is only utilizing "stock meat" obtained from "scientific research," in order to "preserve the Japanese culture eating whale meat. Blue whales and minke whales are yummy, yummy in Japanese tummy."
"People in other country think eating whale is strange, but is our culture,'' she said. "The whale for the burger is cooked in way that it tastes like beef, chicken or tuna. Very nice.''
At the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission, currently being held in South Korea, anti-whaling countries passed a resolution on Thursday urging Japan to end plans to more than quadruple the number of whales it hunts each year for "research." The commission rejected a proposal earlier to end its almost two-decade-old ban on commercial whaling, disappointing Japan and other pro-whaling nations that say herds of most whale species have recovered enough to allow unrestricted whale hunting.
Environmental groups and anti-whaling countries including the United States, Canada and Britain, are outraged, saying that Japan's "research" whaling program is a "thinly disguised" commercial whaling venture, pointing out that that meat from the whales is sold to Japanese supermarkets and restaurants.
"I'd be sick if I ate a Blue Whale Burger," said Roger McMufflin of Greenpeace UK. "Whale burgers are immoral. Yuck."
Annually, Japan kills about 100 blue whales and 4,000 minke whales, as well as another 21,000 other whales, including 500 Bryde's whales, 500 sei whales, as well as 10,000 sperm whales and humpback whales, in the northwestern Pacific.
Yet other popular fast food restaurants are supporting the Japanese initiative. McDonald's Restaurants has signed a deal with Japanese suppliers to introduce a Big Mac McWhale burger to North America restaurants, while Burger King is now offering a Big Blue Whopper Burger. Wendy's and Harvey's fast food restaurants intend to follow their lead by marketing their own Endangered Whale Burgers to raise public awareness of the plight of the marine mammals. Environmentalists are planning to boycott these initiatives.