Greenpeace present unique offer to the Icelandic Government

Press release - 5 September, 2003
Supported by the arrival of the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace today launched a public tour that will take the ship around the small North Atlantic Island. At the same time Greenpeace presented an offer to the Icelandic Government, giving them a chance to save their globally damaged reputation and the whales of the world. (1)

Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior arriving at Reykjavik harbour, Iceland.

"Greenpeace will be the link between people around the world and the people of Iceland who want to protect these Islands´ natural resources. We will encourage our supporters and the general public to actively choose Iceland and nature based tourism in the future," says Greenpeace spokesperson Frode Pleym at a press conference onboard the Rainbow Warrior in Reykjavik. (2)

In return Greenpeace urge the Icelandic Government to stop the current whale hunt of 38 minke whales, publicly agree that so called "scientific whaling" will not resume at anytime, under any guise and withdraw Iceland's reservation to the international ban on commercial whaling.

The Icelandic Governments´ attempt to justify whaling "on scientific grounds" is economic suicide. Whale watching is now the heart of an even larger nature tourism industry that is exceeded in economic importance only by Iceland's fish based industries. Already we see tourists cancelling trips to Iceland due to the whale hunt, says Frode Pleym. (3)

The market for whale meat and blubber is not a lucrative option to declining tourism. The viability of selling the whale blubber is uncertain as the Icelandic domestic market is very small and the only potential export market in Japan remains highly questionable. (4)

This clearly shows that there are no legitimate reasons for the Icelandic Government to hunt whales. The argument that it is necessary to control the minke whale stocks to safeguard cod, is pseudo science and used by the Government to gain public opinion, says Frode Pleym.

The Rainbow Warrior first sailed against Icelandic whaling on her maiden voyage in 1978 when the world's largest mammal was on the verge of extinction. Today seven of the 13 great whale species are endangered, the remainder are still recovering from former overexploitation.

The purpose of the Rainbow Warrior tour 2003 is to engage in dialogue with the people of Iceland to support and interact with the existing local pressure on the Icelandic Government. If international reaction is short lived the Icelandic Government will proceed and pave the way for a resumption of full scale commercial whaling for export in 2006.

We offer to work with the people of Iceland towards a future-oriented ecological society while the Icelandic Government is holding their people hostage in an unsustainable tradition. Whaling is part of Iceland's past and Iceland's future can only be undermined by a renewed whale hunt, says Frode Pleym from Greenpeace.

Notes: (1) Through the Greenpeace website and other communications to our supporters, we will ask people around the world to participate in protecting vulnerable areas and species through appropriate opportunities, including visiting Iceland. Read the full offer on Greenpeace support from the general public continues to grow, with a total income of over €165 million in 2002 and supporter numbers of over 2.8 million. This is an increase in total income of 5% over last year and an increase of 49% over the last five-year period.(3) It is estimated that about a dozen whale watching companies have been started in Iceland in the last ten years, generating US$8.5 million in 2001. Commercial whaling generated US$ 3-4 million between 1986-1989 when commercial hunts where stopped. 5.6.2003 (AP) Nationalities of tourists with overnight stays in Iceland: 13 % Germany, 11 % US, 10 % UK, 7% Sweden and 5 % Denmark.(4) Japanese consumer groups say studies by the National VeterinaryInstitute in Oslo and the Norwegian College of Veterinary Medicine have found the average concentration of PCBs in north-east Atlantic minke whales to be 3.8 parts per million (ppm). The provisional regulatory standard for PCBs in marine products in Japan is much lower, at 0.5 ppm..."