GREENPEACE: Sealord and commercial whaling

Whaling is not just the concern of governments and obscure political meetings. There is big business involved. You might be surprised to learn of some of the popular seafood companies’ connections to commercial whaling. We’re asking you to help stop commercial whaling by putting pressure on these companies to end their connection to whaling.

Like Gortons in the US, the NZ seafood company Sealord has direct links to commercial whaling through its shareholder Nissui – the distributors of whale meat in Japan and part owners of the whaling fleet.


Nelson-based Sealord’s is 50% owned by Nissui and 50% owned by Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd. (AFL). AFL was established in 2004 to manage the assets as part of the settlement to Maori of commercial fishing claims under the Treaty of Waitangi. In January 2001 Nissui’s bid to become a 50% shareholder in the Sealord operating company was accepted and approved by the New Zealand government. Nissui personnel sit on the Sealord Board and Sealord profits go to Nissui.

Sealord has grown into an international seafood marketing company with worldwide networks in fishing and processing. Not only is it New Zealand’s leading brand in canned and frozen seafood but also a major supplier of seafood to North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. In fact 90% of the company’s income comes from sales outside New Zealand. Sealord seafood is sold in 30 countries worldwide.

Sealord’s annual profit has been in the range of $15-40 million dollars annually for the last three years. Sealord wants to be a company with a $1 billion turnover.

Sealord Policy:

According to Sealord’s website:

“Protection of the environment is imperative to Sealord’s overall business goals and a key to market growth in the future. As a harvester of seafood, we recognize our responsibility to ensure there are fish for the future, by fishing sustainably. As a fisher, processor and marketer, our objective is to reduce our impact on the environment by actively pursuing environmentally friendly ways of carrying out a successful business. We are committed to building a culture which exhibits our core value of care for the environment”.

Nissui is Japan’s second largest marine products company with business activities in the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. For the last five years Nissui has been expanding its international market and increasing its access to fishing rights through acquisition, establishing subsidiaries and business partnerships in foreign countries.

Nissui is one of three Japanese fishing companies – the other two are: Maruha Group, Ltd and Kyokuyo Co Ltd – that have been the key players in Japan’s history of commercial whaling. Today these same companies are the majority shareholders in Kyodo Senpaku, the company that owns and operates Japan’s whaling fleet today. Is Nissui a fishing company or a commercial whaling company?

Sealord, Nissui and commercial whaling
During the height of Antarctic commercial whaling in the 1960s, three companies – Nissui, Maruha Group (then called Taiyo Gyogyo) and Kyokuyo – owned and operated the Japanese Antarctic whaling fleets.

Decreasing demand and decreasing whaling quotas led the whaling departments of these three companies to merge to form one company. When the moratorium on commercial whaling was introduced that company transferred its catcher boats and factory ship to a new company called Kyodo Senpaku. Nissui owns approximately one third of Kyodo Senpaku, which carries out the Japanese government’s commercial whaling. Nissui also cans, markets and distributes the whale meat from the whales caught in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary

How commercial whaling is disguised as research
Kyodo Senpaku provides seasonal workers and whaling ships to the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR). The ICR gets a subsidy from the Japanese Government to pay the workers’ salaries and the charter for the ships to Kyodo Senpaku. Both the current and former presidents of Kyodo Senpaku are former Nissui employees.

The big difference between commercial whaling before and after the moratorium is the role of the Japanese Government. Without the annual subsidies, loans, market interference and artificial demand created by the government of Japan, commercial whaling would have ended with implementation of the moratorium.

Take action
Click here to send a message to Sealord CEO Doug McKay asking him to publicly state their opposition to commercial whaling and to use Sealord’s influence to persuade Nissui to cease all involvement with the whaling industry immediately.

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