A four-day meeting held this week in Oslo has seen Japan and Norway agree to begin joint preparations to trade in whale meat from next spring.

Government officials and industry representatives from the two countries met for the first time on Sunday to discuss the terms for the shipment of whale meat to Japan. Delegates visited whale meat processing plants in Norway and agreed to standardise their respective databases on whale DNA to prevent smuggling.

A similar meeting will be held in Tokyo at some point before the end of the year, Japanese sources revealed yesterday.

Environmental groups have condemned the trade in whale meat, which flies in the face of an international moratorium.