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  Today Online 7 Feb 07
Whale on our plates? how?
Letter from Wee leng leng

My family was dining at a restaurant at Shaw Tower when we saw that whale meat was offered on its gourmet menu.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore's website reveals that Singapore is one of the signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) of Wild Fauna and Flora, which prohibits the trade in whale species, such as the sperm whale, bottle-nosed whale, grey whale, Humpback whales, etc (Appendix I).

So, how did the protected whale end up as sashimi on our plates?

Even if certain whales were allowed to be traded (Appendix II), how do we ascertain none of the endangered species slip through the scientific cracks to be served as exotic food?

Singaporeans have neither tradition nor scientifically proved facts to support this acquired taste for whale meat.

It is ironic that we, as a Cites signatory, have easy access to the endangered and/or protected species via our restaurants' kitchens.

Today Online 10 Feb 07
Whale on your plate? Tell AVA
Letter from Goh Shih Yong Assistant Director, Corporate Communications, for Chief Executive Officer, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), Ministry of National Development

I refer to the letter, "Whale on our plates how?" (Feb 7) by Ms Wee Leng Leng. We thank Ms Wee for her feedback.

All species of whale are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Under Singapore's Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, anyone who wishes to import or export whales, including their parts and derivatives such as whale meat, must obtain a permit from the AVA.

To date, the AVA has not allowed any import of whale meat for human consumption.

Following Ms Wee's feedback, the AVA immediately checked the restaurants at Shaw Tower and Shaw Centre but did not find any whale meat being sold.

We wish to remind the public that under the Endangered Species Act, any person who possesses, sells, offers or advertises for sale any illegal whale meat or products is committing an offence and may be fined up to $50,000 for every scheduled species (not exceeding $500,000 in total) and/or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

The AVA urges anyone with information on the illegal trade of whale meat to call us at 6227 0670.

We will not hesitate to take action against any person or company who violates the Endangered Species Act.

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