Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society: Whalers Using Whale Oil to Fuel Whaling Boats Highlights the Confusing State of a Dying Industry Says WDCS

LONDON--()--As the whaling season in European waters draws to a close this month, the hunting activities of Norway and Iceland demonstrate the confusing nature of a whaling industry in decline and the perverse messages it sends out to Europe, says the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS). Norway, after granting itself its highest whaling quota since the moratorium came into effect (1286 in total) has killed fewer minke whales this season than last. The total Norwegian hunt reached 464 whales as of September 5th, compared with 482 at the same time last year, figures which reflect the falling demand for whale meat in the domestic market in Norway.

According to WDCS, despite the general slow demise in popularity of whale meat in the European whaling nations, Iceland’s fin whaling industry has, in contrast, adopted a provocative approach by taking its highest catch since 1985, due largely to the efforts of the Hvalur hf. company, operated by Kristjan Loftsson. As of September 14th, 127 endangered fin whales had been killed.

WDCS believes that Loftsson is seeking to circumvent falling domestic meat demand by exporting to Japan, as well as promoting new uses for whale products, even going so far as to use whale oil to fuel vessels to then hunt more whales!

This increase in Icelandic whaling activity is irreconcilable with the Icelandic government’s on-going negotiations with the EU Commission over accession to the European Union, which has clearly stated that neither Iceland’s whaling activities nor the export of whale products is in line with its own EU legislation.

Sue Fisher, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society’s anti-whaling campaigner, says; “It’s a very contradictory situation which sums up the bizarre state of Icelandic whaling today – falling markets yet requests to kill more whales, provoking the wrath of EU whilst negotiating to become a member state, and then adding insult to injury by using dead whales to fuel vessels so that they can go out and hunt for more of these animals.”

Iceland’s fin whalers are not alone in their perverse approach to whales; in early August, the Minke Whalers Association in Iceland announced the start of a new ‘whaling watching’ venture, offering tourists the chance to ‘be on a whaling vessel, see and hear shot from our harpoon’ and to ‘taste our grilled and raw whalemeat.’

In stark contrast to the economic and political liability represented by whaling in Iceland, whale watching is truly valuable to the Icelandic economy. In 2009, roughly 125,000 people took a whale watch trip in Icelandic waters. These whale watchers provide significant direct revenue of more than US$4 million in direct taxes to the Icelandic economy, as well as add-on tourism expenditures such as hotel and restaurant purchases.

WDCS has recently produced comprehensive statistical analysis of whaling and also a report on the whaling industry’s development of new applications for whale oil, both of which can be found here; http://www.wdcs.co.uk/whaling_graphs/main.swf http://www.wdcs.org/submissions_bin/trade_report_201006.pdf

Editors Notes:

1. 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. 2. From 1990 until 2006, not a single fin whale was killed in Iceland. When Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006,7 fin whales were killed, whilst in 2007 and 2008, no fin whales were killed although minke whaling did continue. In 2009, Iceland killed 125 fin whales and 81 minke whales. 3. Norway's quotas and catch for the last decade: Year Quota Catch 2000 655 487 2001 549 552 2002 671 634 2003 711 647 2004 670 543 2005 796 639 2006 1052 546 2007 1052 597 2008 1052 536 2009 885 484 2010 1286 464 Average catch for 2000 - 2010 = 557 whales

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Contacts

WDCS Press Office
01249 449 534, 07834 498 277
Email press@wdcs.org

Contacts

WDCS Press Office
01249 449 534, 07834 498 277
Email press@wdcs.org