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How global warming is enabling the whale meat trade

General Economy In IcelandGeneral Economy In Iceland
A chef slices a lump of fresh whale meat in the kitchen of the 3 Frakkar restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

Consider the irony.

A ship carrying 1,800 tons of endangered whale meat successfully charted a new course through a typically impassable sea route thanks to rising global temperatures, the recession of the Arctic ice cap, and the help of a Russian ice-breaker, Newsweek reports.

Environmental degradation has, in other words, provided whaling—an industry often criticized for ravaging wildlife—a convenient new highway upon which to conduct its controversial commerce.

The cargo ship, called the Winter Bay, set sail from Iceland in June, stopped in Tromsø, Norway, and left in August to navigate a month-long voyage through the Northeast Passage, an Arctic shipping route. The ship made port in Osaka, Japan, on Sunday.

Normally, such shipments from Iceland travel south around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope to reach their destinations, reports The Japan Times. In this case, the operators rerouted in order “to avoid obstruction by anti-whaling groups in the Indian Ocean.”

The ship still encountered obstacles over the course of its journey, Newsweek notes. In Norway, an anti-whaling group known as Sea Shepherd tried to block its passage, as have other protestors—including actress Pamela Anderson.

The ship carried the meat of fin whales, an endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Countries such as Iceland, Norway, and Japan, ignore or use loopholes to get around international trade restrictions regarding commercial whaling.

Now they can use the Northeast Passage, too.