Amazing what the world shows us about people. It is an anathema to me that Greenland’s whalers seek to undermine international conservation policy by opening up (even) more commercial whaling whilst operating under the pretence that everything they do is classified as ‘aboriginal subsistence’ whaling. Several thousand miles away, fishermen in Kenya are rescuing whales.
In Greenland the Greenland National Broadcasting Company reports that Fishermen can get now an exception to the law on selling meat and mattak from minke whales and the totally protected humpback whale. A new procedure from the Dept. of Fishing and Hunting will give, namely, bottom fishermen, salmon fishermen and crab fishers permission that, if they have a humpback or minke whale in their nets, they can sell the meat and mattak for the same price, as the whales ‘had been going to waste previously’.
On the other side of the world the Kenya Wildlife Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) reports that the ‘Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) rangers in Malindi town on Thursday rescued a humpback whale which had become entangled in a fisherman's net five miles off the Kenyan coast in the Indian Ocean.
KBC reports that it took over two hours of combined effort from KWS rangers, Kingfisher divers, Blue Sea Diving School divers and the fishermen to disentangle the two whales. And yes, the fishermen are going to demand compensation for lost nets, but that's fair enough compared to Greenland's fishermen who are laughing at the 'accidental whaling' that they are going to engage in.
Something is amiss in (a) state of Denmark - and greed and money is at the root of it
Ingibjorg Thordardottir writing on the BBC website has produced a thoughtful and insightful piece on the current relationship between Iceland and the UK. One aspect that she notes is that tourism between the two nations will now be strained - and that’s got to be a regret for all of us.
WDCS was once (actually more than once) asked to stop supporting tourism to Iceland as a 'punishment' for their whaling. Well, for one, we didn't think the whole of Iceland's 300,000 people were all in favour of whaling (despite what the Icelandic Government would have us believe) and secondly, we were very aware of colleagues in the growing whale watching tourism sector in Iceland who were becoming increasingly critical of their government's position on whaling. They have been a rallying point for an informed debate that has garnered more support from a growing number of Icelanders who felt their position on whaling was no longer valid for the 21st Century.
It seems that future policy may not be just in the hands of the Icelandic Government and the pro-whalers. Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, the Icelandic foreign minister, said that joining the European Union ‘must now be a long-term ambition’. Such a move had been fiercely opposed by the country’s fishing industry because of the likely concessions its fleets would have to make.
Ms Solrun Gisladottir said: “In the short term, our defence is co-operation with the International Monetary Fund and in the long term EU membership, adoption of the euro and backup from the European Central Bank.” Einar Gudfinnsson, the fisheries minister, admitted that there may be little alternative.
What this means for Iceland’s whaling we shall have to see. But one imagines that the whalers will try to play up the nationalistic role of whaling in the coming months – or cry ‘poverty’ to justify increased quotas. Lets hope I am proved wrong.
Despite all this I for one, hope that British tourists continue to go to Iceland in the coming year. I hope that they spend money with Icelandic whale watch companies, whilst avoiding any restaurants that sell whale meat.
Where does the global financial crisis leave us in respect to the whaling debate? Iceland has seen huge problems with all its leading banks apparently in major trouble.
One of my colleagues noted to me yesterday that last week, the third largest Icelandic bank, Glitnir, had to be bailed out by a 75% share buy out from the Icelandic government. Glitnir’s main focus is the seafood industry.
Today it was announced that Landsbanki, the Icelandic national bank, has sold its major European holdings (380 million euro worth) to the Straumur-Burdaras corporation.
Landsbanki has also had a major focus on the fishing industry sector.
The result has been what the media are calling a “free fall” for the Icelandic kronur.
Well, one conclusion is that Iceland is going to have to look to tourism as a major source of foreign revenue. Whale watching could be a major draw. If only they would give up the whale killing, maybe even more people would be willing to come.