The cargo ship Winter Bay this weekend left the Norwegian city of Tromsø, loaded with 1,700 tons of frozen fin whale meat from Iceland.
The ship has been in Tromsø for six weeks while the Norwegian government was petitioned to impound the vessel, as many people believe its cargo to be illegal.
Norway eventually decided not to impound the ship and it left port on Saturday.
A million opponents of whaling have so far signed a petition to stop the ship’s progress because fin whales are listed as an endangered species. The endangered classification applies, however, only to the Antarctic stock, RÚV reports.
Sea Shepherd has been closely following the progress of Winter Bay and one of the anti-whaling organization’s ships arrived in Tromsø in late June. Its crew filmed Winter Bay at the dockside as part of their efforts to draw global attention to the ship and its cargo.
Winter Bay left Hafnarfjörður, Iceland on June 3 and its intended route will be to the north of Russia, east through the Arctic Ocean and to the Japanese city of Osaka. If the voyage goes to plan it will be the first cargo shipment of seafood to have ever been transported along the Northeast Passage.
The route is much shorter than all other sailing routes between Europe and the Far East, but has usually been unnavigable due to sea ice. If Winter Bay arrives as planned, it could mark a turning point in Arctic shipping.