LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Greenland’s Ministry of Fisheries has announced that it will allow a hunt of nine humpback whales to start immediately, despite the fact that this decision violates International Whaling Commission (IWC) regulations clearly specifying that this quota of humpbacks cannot legally come into effect until mid-October.
Greenland obtained approval from the IWC last June to start a hunt of nine humpback whales a year but, despite acknowledging in a letter to the Commission that to begin the hunt before the mid-October deadline would be a violation of IWC regulations, it seems that the Greenland’s government has given way to hunters who want to start the killing much sooner.
“Any whales taken before the October 13th deadline would be an infraction of IWC rules”, says Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society’s anti-whaling campaigner, Sue Fisher. “The reason why the hunters wish to start hunting sooner, and why Greenland has written to the IWC seeking its understanding, is that humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of the Caribbean to breed in the winter and if the hunt can not start now, the opportunity to take the whales may be missed.”
The northwestern Greenland administrative region of Qaasuitsup, which includes the major whaling town of Ilulissat, was allocated two of the nine whales. Last week it used a lottery system to select who can hunt the charismatic humpbacks. The winning hunters, two boats from Ilulissat, and one each from Aasiaat and Kangaatsiaq, can take their whales from 13 August until the end of December.
Greenland first sought a quota of humpback whales in 2007, arguing that its existing quota of fin and minke whales was inadequate to meet its subsistence needs. For three consecutive years, Greenland’s proposal failed, amid concerns about high levels of commercialization of whale meat intended to meet subsistence needs, and the government’s refusal to document who actually needs to eat whale meat for subsistence in Greenland.
This will be the first humpback hunt in Greenlandic waters since 1986, after the quota was finally awarded in June in a controversial compromise in which Greenland gave up part of its fin and minke whale quota that it never used anyway.
Sue Fisher, highlights the irony of that decision; “In total, the deal secured Greenland less, not more, whale meat overall, but that was glossed over. The victory for Greenland was to secure the right to hunt a new, and probably commercially valuable, species”.
The European Union, which had been divided over the merit of the humpback proposal for years, came up with the compromise, ignoring evidence collected by a WDCS undercover operation in Greenland that showed subsistence whalers hunting ‘to order’ for a commercial processing company and selling whale meat to up market restaurants and tourist hotels. Fisher add; “It is tragic that these whales, which are worth far more alive to Greenland’s growing tourism industry, may instead soon be found vacuum-sealed and frozen on supermarket shelves”.
Note to Editors
1. The humpback whale is the best known and most easily recognisable of all the large whales. It grows to a length of 17 m. It is a species which is greatly revered around the world because of its amazing vocalisations and frequent acrobatic activities, making it a favourite with whale-watchers worldwide. It is also arguably the most iconic of the whales.
Established back in 1987, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) is the leading global charity dedicated to the conservation and welfare of all whales and dolphins (also known as cetaceans). In short, we are the world voice for the protection of these animals, creating pressure to bring about change.
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