Rakuten, Japan’s biggest online retailer, has announced that it will no longer sell whale and dolphin meat after the International Court of Justice ordered all whale hunting in the southern ocean to stop. Rakuten was identified by the Environmental Investigation Agency as the world’s biggest online retail source for whale and ivory products, drawing unwelcome attention to its business model.

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According to the Rakuten website, the marketplace will no longer allow the sale of whale products beginning April 30, 2014 so that the website could be in accordance with the ICJ’s ruling, and accordingly, all current sellers should phase out their supply. The ruling itself did not limit meat sales in Japan, but the move is welcomed by many people who spent years campaigning to end whale hunting or whale product sales. Many people also hope that the new policy will soon extend to Rakuten’s ivory product sales.

Related: Japan Considers Reducing Antarctic Whaling after UN Court Ruling

Prior to the phase-out, Rakuten had over 1,000 advertisements for whale products, many of which came from protected species. Some species, such as the minke whale, have been protected since 1986 under a general moratorium on whaling, but Japan was allowed to continue hunting them under a scientific whaling program. However, that hunting has now been halted after Japan failed to prove scientific value in the hunting.

The EIA , which has compiled a report on the practice of whale hunting, revealed that some cetacean products sold on the Rakuten site had mercury levels  up to 20 times higher than the legal limit in Japan, making the sale of whale meat not only damaging to whale populations, but also to human health.

Via The Guardian

Lead Image from Shutterstock, image from JD Baskin