Increased scepticism over the economics of whaling

Press release - January 14, 2004
The market for whale meat is small and decreasing in whaling nations Iceland, Norway and Japan due to changed eating habits and fear of environmental toxins. A future export of Icelandic whale meat must be considered as very remote. (1)

An anti-whaling stencil on a wall in the North Icelandic port town of Akureyri.

36 minke whales were caught last autumn in Iceland but there is still an ample supply of whale meat, which is no longer on display in Icelandic supermarket due to the lack of demand. Still, the Government's so called scientific whaling programme plan to expand the hunt even further.

"It is time for the Icelandic government to realize that Iceland will gain so much more from conservation and taking care of the nature than to resume whaling. Whaling is just not profitable for Iceland," stated Frode Pleym, Greenpeace Spokesperson on a press conference in Reykjavik today.

Supported by the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace embarked on a public tour in Iceland last autumn in order to discuss the Icelandic whaling issue and other environmental issues with the Icelandic people. Upon arrival the Icelandic Government stated that Greenpeace had nothing to offer the Icelandic people.

Since then a recent finding by Gallup, the opinion research firm, has revealed that 48% of the Icelandic public thinks the existence of groups like Greenpeace is " rather important or very important." (2).

The purpose of the tour in Iceland was to present an offer to the Icelandic Government that shows the clear economic and environmental gain in choosing sustainable tourism over whaling. (3).

"Today over 18.000 people have taken the pledge to consider a vacation in Iceland if the whaling is stopped. Our goal is 50 000 pledges which would represent 58,3 million USD in tourism value versus 4 million USD from commercial whaling at it's peak. This is an economic opportunity for Iceland," said Frode Pleym.

During the press conference Greenpeace launched a new Icelandic website, www.greenpeace.is, and presented an exhibition, featuring images from the Rainbow Warrior tour around in September 2003, that will travel to different public venues in Iceland during spring 2004.

" With the exhibition and the website we want to invite the Icelandic people to take part in Greenpeace global environmental work. We have been greatly encouraged by the discussions with the people of Iceland and we are looking forward to continue our presence in Iceland in the future," said Frode Pleym.

Notes: (1) www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=2313082 and Finansavisen October 2003 "Hvalkjott och Marked" by Trygve Hegner. (2) Through the Greenpeace website and other communications to our supporters, we ask people around the world to participate in protecting vulnerable areas and species through appropriate opportunities, including visiting Iceland. Read more on www.icelandwhalespledge.com (3) Gallup asked 800 Icelanders age 16-75 the question " The importance of the existence of an international environmental organisation like Greenpeace" Read the Gallup report on http://www.greenpeace.org/iceland

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