Where can I get whale meat in the USA?
April 19, 2007 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to buy whale meat in the US? Where can I get it?

I am thinking of Norwegian or Japanese whale, not black market stuff.

I would prefer fresh or frozen, but even canned will do.

I have read that there is a temporary surplus, and I would really like to try it.

Yes, I know that meat brings out the diabolic quality in you, and whale meat doubly so, no need to remind me.
posted by Dataphage to Food & Drink (6 answers total)
I know that possessing any part of a marine mammal (without some kind of a permit) is illegal in the US under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This includes, apparently, teeth from whales washed ashore.
I expect it's going to have to be black market. This may be the Male Answer Syndrome speaking, by the way.
posted by lostburner at 11:01 AM on April 19, 2007

It is possible to order whalemeat online in Japan, but near as I can tell, they only ship fresh meat (no whale jerky, whale pancetta, or canned whale), and only domestically. And you'd need to be able to navigate a Japanese web page.
posted by adamrice at 11:26 AM on April 19, 2007

Not a lawyer, but when I read this:
...It is unlawful for a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction to: engage in whaling in violation of the Convention, an IWC regulation, this Act or a Secretary of Commerce regulation; ship, transport, purchase, sell, offer for sale, import, export or possess a whale or whale products taken or processed illegally...
(emphasis mine. source)
It might be possible to find someone who is willing to go through the paperwork who will import it from a country where it's legally hunted. But I doubt it.

You might also try some native tribes in Alaska who have permission to hunt whales.

But seriously. You don't want frozen or, for the love of god, canned. You want fresh. Would you eat canned lobster?

Iceland Air usually has some great travel deals. Take a long weekend in Reykjavik and have some fresh whale sashimi.
posted by Ookseer at 11:38 AM on April 19, 2007

Funny story - my dad went to Italy on business, and his hosts treated him to a fancy dinner. Get the whale, they said- its very good! He ordered it, but was a little apprehensive - what's whale meat like anyway? When he got it, he was relieved to find out that it was much more normal looking than he had feared, and yes, it was very good.

Fast forward about 5 years. The Italians were visiting America this time, and were over at our house for dinner. The topic of food came up, and my dad commented on eating whale when he had visited, how thats something we don't have in America. "But you have it too", they said, "Ive seen it in the grocery store".

We were really confused, and kept asking questions about where they had seen whale meat sold around here. Until one of them said, "yes, whale, from baby cows!"
posted by jpdoane at 3:23 PM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

... whale pancetta ...

These are two words which I did not know went together.
posted by padjet1 at 8:58 PM on April 19, 2007

You might also try some native tribes in Alaska who have permission to hunt whales.

This is probably your best bet, if you limit your search to the USA. The New York Times carried a story about two or three years ago by a columnist who managed to score some whale meat from an Alaskan friend who had connections with a Native tribe who had permission to conduct whale hunts.

Let me amend what I just said. The Native Alaskans are probably going to be your only domestic source of whale meat. There just isn't enough of a demand, at least in the lower 48, to support an illegal trade.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:18 AM on April 20, 2007

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