REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - July 5 - 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.
Greenpeace International oceans campaigner John Frizell said: "Iceland's
whaling programme provides no money, no useful science, and could
seriously damage both the country's tourist industry and its
international reputation. What's more, domestic public opinion
increasingly supports whale watching rather than whale killing."
Like Japan, Iceland has been carrying out whaling under the guise of
scientific research but the meat and blubber ends up being pushed to the
commercial market. However, the market for whale meat and blubber in
Iceland is small and is decreasing. Only a quarter of last year's catch
was sold. Iceland' s freezers and storage are full with up to 40 tonnes
of unsold whale meat and blubber from the 2003 and 2004 hunts.
The Icelandic Tourist Association and whale watching operators have made
it clear that whaling damages the reputation of the nation and has a
negative impact on tourism. In recent years, tourism has become a major
source of income in Iceland; whale watching alone attracts around 82,000
tourists annually and is worth more than $18 million USD a year. (1)
"Whaling is just one of the threats from humanity facing whales today -
they're also threatened by pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and
the effects of climate change. Iceland should stop whaling now, and
choose the sustainable path that also makes scientific and business
sense; whale watching," said Frizell.
Iceland's 2003/2004 hunts took 61 minke whales in total instead of the
original quota of 500, which included 200 fin and 100 sei whales. The
reduced catch was the result of a combination of whalers being refused
permission to export their catches, strong domestic criticism and a
markedly reduced market for whale goods in Iceland.
(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