Another bad taste idea for what to do with a dead whale…

A whale being flensed on shore in Hvalfjordur, Iceland. c. IFAW 2006Just because you’re on the right side of a debate doesn’t mean that the other side doesn’t come up with a good wheeze every so often… in the case of Icelandic whaling, those that want to keep killing whales for no known economic reason are very good at producing eye catching, but essentially empty, suggestions of how they could make money from the whale meat that very few people want.

In the past there have been suggestions that they would use whale oil in road construction or that they would take tourists out to watch them killing whales. Kristjan Loftsson, the lone fin whaler, even says one reason he kills endangered fin whales is to power his boats to go out killing more whales…

The latest story is that whale meat is being used as an ingredient in a new Icelandic beer.  Wow, what a great media story!

The stories are all novel and catch the attention of journalists, sometimes even outside Iceland. But the hype generally comes to nothing. No road building in Iceland has used whale oil and, surprise, surprise, the Icelandic authorities refused to grant vessels, which essentially are slaughterhouses, to carry tourists on board. 

Will this Icelandic whale beer take off commercially?

I doubt it. 

Because this particular story has been so widely taken up, perhaps interest in the latest gimmick will continue for a short time - though once again, this is more of a desperate bid to make cruel, unnecessary and uneconomic whaling somehow appear meaningful and popular.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) commissioned polling from Gallup in Iceland shows that just 3% of Icelanders regularly consume whale meat, and around 75% never have. Whaling in Iceland is more and more the lone pursuit of one wealthy businessman who seems content to lose money in the process. 

No matter how you spin it, that’s the truth and the Icelandic government should recognise that its best interests lie in distancing itself from this cruel, costly and ultimately pointless activity. That’s why IFAW recently sent a message to supporters asking them to point this out to the Icelandic government.

This isn’t about cheap media stunts - it’s about the needless and cruel act of killing a whale. That’s what IFAW and our supporters oppose, and that’s what we will continue to focus on.

--RM

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