Iceland to Kill Endangered Whales...Why?

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I came into work this morning, following two straight days of ER related training, and was prepared to write a post on IFAW Russian bear rescue (coming soon!). But as I was clearing out my Inbox I saw IFAW’s press release on this issue.

Iceland whalers are gearing up for a hunt that last ceased back in the 1980s. Yesterday the country announced that it would reinstate commercial whaling, thereby killing off nine fin whales and 30 minke whales per year.

Iceland is reinstating the hunt despite rejoining the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 2002, whose members agree not to participate in commercial whaling for many reasons. (For example: scientific research does not support the accusation that whales are a detriment to local fish populations.) All members of the IWC except for Norway have ceased commercial hunting. Norway (currently basking in the glow of whale blubber) has stated a reservation towards the 20-year moratorium and has assumed the right to continue on with commercial whaling.

Commercial whaling is an outdated and unnecessary industry that should have ended a century ago with the use of whale oil lamps. The government of Iceland should be supporting its nation’s thriving and growing whale watching industry rather than sinking money and its political reputation into promoting the cruel hunting of whales.

Few Icelanders eat whale meat regularly; there is limited, if any, world market for the meat; and there is little scientific support for the theory that whales have a significant impact on the depletion of fish stocks. Furthermore, a growing number of jobs in Iceland depend on the developing whale-watching industry.

Icelanders seem to be generally environmentally conscious and in favor of using marine resources in a way that preserves them for future generations.  This hunt is about catering to special interests, not the needs of Icelandic citizens.

This story has also made the front pages of AAFL and Grist.

Comments: 3

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

It is a sign of the most wicked minds in the world that they support hunting of whales.
This cruel thing should be equally punished in my comprehension, I believe.
Since it's the only thing to do with malice. Fight it with evil!

 
Anonymous
7 years ago

I think that there is NO reason for killing the animals!!!

 
Anonymous
8 years ago

> Yesterday the country announced that it would reinstate commercial whaling, thereby killing off nine fin whales and 30 minke whales per year.
Actually, this quota is just for the year to August 2007. I fully expect that Iceland will seek to increase these quotas, because the numbers currently suggested are nothing near what is possible.
Consider that 9 fin whales is less than 0.04% of the stock abundance estimate in the region.
Consider also that the IWC Scientific Committee report for IWC 58 notes that growth in the stock was roughly 10%, or somewhere between 6% and 14% annually.
Iceland could clearly take significantly more fin whales than this without introducing any serious risk of over-utilising this stock.
> Iceland is reinstating the hunt despite rejoining the International Whale Commission (IWC)
Actually, it is the International "Whaling" Commission, not a "whale" commission. Quite an important distinction.
> (For example: scientific research does not support the accusation that whales are a detriment to local fish populations.)
Where is "local"?
There are regions in the world where whales do eat fish, and those fish do happen to be important to fisheries. If those people did as IFAW and other groups suggest they would have
1) no whale meat to eat
2) potential reductions in supplies of certain fish as whale stocks increase to their carrying capacity
On the other hand, if they carefully study the interactions within those ecosystems, they have a chance of being able to maximise human benefits from the ecosystem by making wise use of the whale and fish resources.
It's a no-brainer that this is what people dependent on marine resources for food would attempt to do.
> Commercial whaling is an outdated and unnecessary industry
USA beef farming is an unnecessary industry, yet on it goes. The whaling industries around the world are insignificant by comparison. Shouldn't IFAW be campaigning on the REAL issues, rather than the NON-issues?
> that should have ended a century ago with the use of whale oil lamps.
But, you can get whale meat through whaling.
> The government of Iceland should be supporting its nation’s thriving and growing whale watching industry rather
The government of Iceland recognises that whaling and whale watching can co-exist. Tourism to Iceland in recent times is up, not down, despite Iceland's recent scientific whaling programmes. It hasn't turned tourists away.
> than sinking money and its political reputation into promoting the cruel hunting of whales.
Hunting whales is less cruel than penning up animals, fattening them, then slaughtering them in slaughterhouses with all their mates. Once farming practices end, then perhaps the whalers might take notice.
> Few Icelanders eat whale meat regularly;
That's because there is a commercial moratorium preventing the SUPPLY of whale meat. How can people in Iceland eat whale meat when supply is so limited?
> there is limited, if any, world market for the meat;
On the contrary, whale meat sales in Japan this year are up by 50% in some markets. Historically whale meat consumption peaked at over 200,000 tonnes of whale meat in a single year. Today consumption is just a fraction of that, probably somewhere around 6,000 - 7,000 toones. There is plenty of room for additional whale meat in Japan, at a time when tuna stocks are dwindling and beef from the US has health concerns.
> and there is little scientific support for the theory that whales have a significant impact on the depletion of fish stocks.
Define "significant". What is significant to IFAW is likely different in significance to people dependent on their local marine resources.
> Furthermore, a growing number of jobs in Iceland depend on the developing whale-watching industry.
Whale-watching and whaling are compatible, as Iceland has found in recent years. Even in Japan there are whale-watching operations, in Norway as well.
> Icelanders seem to be generally environmentally conscious and in favor of using marine resources in a way that preserves them for future generations.
Indeed. Perhaps then, this should be taken as a hint by IFAW and other groups that Iceland is actually in the right on this matter, and IFAW and others are in the wrong.

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