Greenpeace today strongly criticised the Icelandic government' s decision to issue quotas to hunt whales for the third year running. The government has just granted permission for 39 minke whales to be killed in the 2005 hunt. The Icelandic go ahead comes just 2 weeks after so-called 'scientific whaling' was condemned by the International Whaling Commission at its 2005 meeting in Ulsan, Korea.
Underwater view of Sei whale & calf.
GreenpeaceInternational oceans campaigner John Frizell said: "Iceland's whalingprogramme provides no money, no useful science, and could seriously damage boththe country’s tourist industry and its international reputation. What’smore, domestic public opinion increasingly supports whale watching rather thanwhale killing.”
LikeJapan, Iceland has been carrying out whaling under the guise of scientificresearch but the meat and blubber ends up being pushed to the commercialmarket. However, the market for whale meat and blubber in Iceland is small and isdecreasing. Only a quarter of last year's catch was sold. Iceland' sfreezers and storage are full with up to 40 tonnes of unsold whale meat andblubber from the 2003 and 2004 hunts.
TheIcelandic Tourist Association and whale watching operators have made it clearthat whaling damages the reputation of the nation and has a negative impact ontourism. In recent years, tourism has become a major source of income inIceland; whale watching alone attracts around 82,000 tourists annually and isworth more than $18 million USD a year. (1)
“Whalingis just one of the threats from humanity facing whales today – they’re alsothreatened by pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and the effects ofclimate change. Iceland should stop whaling now, and choose the sustainablepath that also makes scientific and business sense; whale watching," saidFrizell.
Iceland’s 2003/2004 hunts took 61 minke whales in total instead of theoriginal quota of 500, which included 200 fin and 100 sei whales. The reducedcatch was the result of a combination of whalers being refused permission toexport their catches, strong domestic criticism and a markedly reduced marketfor whale goods in Iceland.
Notes: (1) In 2003, Greenpeace launched a pledge asking people to consider a holiday in Iceland if whaling was stopped. Over 67,000 people have taken the pledge so far - this represents $78.8million USD in tourism value as opposed to $4million from commercial whaling at its peak. The offer, presented by Greenpeace to the Icelandic government, clearly shows the economic and environmental gain of choosing sustainable tourism over whaling. Read more on http://www.icelandwhalespledge.com