Greenpeace have started a drive to convince the people of Iceland that their whales are worth more alive than dead…
Just bumping this post back onto the frontpage…
If everyone who has pledged to visit Iceland if whaling stops, actually does so, the value of tourism would be $26.6 million. Iceland’s annual commercial whaling is worth $4 million.
Personally, I want to mountainbike the north coast of Iceland. But I’m like that.
Here’s the pledge:
I would seriously consider taking a vacation in Iceland rather than somewhere else if the Government of Iceland stopped whaling. I would be willing to receive an email about the options available for Icelandic tourism, an email that would be sent to me if the Government of Iceland ends its whaling program.
Make an Iceland Whale Pledge »
Here’s a response from the Icelandic government:
Thank you for your e-mail concerning Iceland’s policy on whaling. To begin with, I can assure you that Iceland’s scientific whaling program does not involve any of the endangered species of whales, killed on a grand scale by the big whaling nations in the past.
A total number of 36 minke whales where taken in the first phase of this program, which ended on October 1 this year. Icelandic scientists are now working on the data gathered from the research, which is linked to Iceland’s overall policy of sustainable utilization of marine resources and only involves non-endangered species. The number involved is so small that it will not have any impact on the minke whale stock around Iceland.
According to scientific studies presented to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission there are abundant stocks of some species of whales while some are still threatened. It is estimated that there are more than 67 thousand minke whales in the Central North Atlantic Ocean, 24 thousand fin whales and 10 thousand sei whales.
Icelandic authorities fully appreciate the need for careful conservation of marine resources. Iceland’s economy depends on those resources for more than two thirds of its exports. Disruption of the ecological balance in the sea around Iceland due to overfishing or other reasons would have catastrophic consequences for the livelihood of Icelanders.
As you may know, Iceland was among the first countries in the world to extend its fishing limit to 200 nautical miles in the year 1975 to put an end to the uncontrolled fishing around Iceland by trawlers from other European countries, endangering the fish stocks. Since then Iceland has taken great care in maintaining balanced and sustainable fishing in Icelandic waters by enforcing a strict quota system for various fish species including cod, herring and capelin. Iceland takes pride in its pioneering work in this field, which has been emulated by many countries in the world wishing to avoid overfishing. The quotas for fishing are based on the recommendation of scientists, who regularly monitor the status of each stock. As whales form an integral part of the marine ecosystem, they also need to be included as part of a comprehensive study.
The annual consumption of fish, krill and other biomass by whales in Icelandic waters has been estimated around 6 million metric tons, several times the total Icelandic fishery landings of 1.5 to 2.0 million metric tons. This is an indication of the impact that whales are having on the marine ecosystem.
It would be irresponsible to ignore a factor of such a magnitude. It has been pointed out that the great number of minke whales is threatening the recovery of various species of fish such as cod, which the minke whale consumes in great quantities. At the same time it seems probable that the more numerous whale species, such as minke whales, fin whales and sei whales, may actually be taking over the ecological niche, which some of the endangered whale species used to fill, making it more difficult for them to recover as a result. This also is an object of further study.
Iceland’s research program on minke whales is a part of a comprehensive scientific study on the ecological interactions between minke whale and other marine species. Similarly it is necessary to research various aspects of the biology feeding ecology and pathology of fin and sei whales in the Northern Atlantic. This will be considered at a later stage.
Iceland was one of the first countries in the world to realize the importance of a conservation approach to whaling. As signs of overexploitation of whales emerged early in the last century, Iceland declared a ban on whaling for large whales in Iceland 1915 – 1935. Whaling was not resumed again until 1948 (except for limited catches from one land station 1935 – 1939). Strict rules and limitations were applied to whaling in Iceland and they were restricted to small-scale land based operation from 1948 to 1985 when all commercial whaling was halted again because of the so-called international moratorium on whaling. This is an important reason for the robust condition of the main whale stocks of large whales Iceland used to utilize, i.e. the fin whales and sei whales in the Central Northern Atlantic.
Iceland has been a leading advocate for international cooperation in ensuring sustainable use of natural resources, including whales. This has been the stance taken by Iceland within the International Whaling Commission (IWC), based on the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling from 1946. The stated role of the IWC is to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.
Iceland recently rejoined the IWC with a reservation to the so-called moratorium on commercial whaling. Iceland had left the IWC in protest over the latter’s failure to abide by its intended role of regulating whaling and promoting whale research instead of totally banning all whaling, regardless of scientific findings. It has now rejoined the organization and is taking part in its work on the Revised Management Scheme (RMS), the IWC’s framework for commercial whaling. Iceland has committed itself to not authorizing commercial whaling before 2006 or while progress is being made in the negotiations of RMS. It has also made it clear that commercial whaling will not be authorized in Iceland without a sound scientific basis and an effective management and enforcement scheme. Iceland has no plans for commercial whaling at this stage.
I hope that this information will be useful to you in understanding the views of the Icelandic authorities and allay any possible fears regarding Iceland’s position on whaling. You may rest assured, that the desire to ensure the conservation of the whale stocks around Iceland and elsewhere is fully shared by my Government.
For information on the governance of Icelandic marine living
resources please refer to the Icelandic Web Page, www.fisheries.is
and for information on various scientific research projects on whales
and other marine mammals in the North Atlantic please refer to the
Web site of the Marine Research Institute: www.hafro.is and the North
Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission: www.nammco.no