by Jennifer Mishler
Categories: Animals.
Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons

Iceland’s Minke Whalers Association has decided to try a new way to bring in money and counter the opposition from animal welfare and environmental organizations. They want you to be a “whaler” for a day.

According to the Guardian, tourists will be invited to go to sea on the whaling ships, see a whale tail and even internal organs up close, and then eat whale meat and blubber. Sound appetizing? If it does, you may want to read up on mercury poisoning.

Gunnar Jonsson, head of the Minke Whalers Association, is emphasizing that whales will not be killed during these excursions and that the idea is to show people what whalers do. Still, this idea raises concern among environmentalists, many of whom are calling this an attempt to raise profits while demand for whale meat decreases and the popularity of whale-watching increases.

Iceland’s whaling continues to be opposed by conservation organizations and labeled a cruel and unnecessary practice in modern society. Says Vanessa Williams-Grey of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society: “We ask that people resist the temptation to give the meat a try despite whatever they may be told by local whale hunters. The fact is that only a small percentage of Icelandic people eat the meat these days. The whales suffer a long and slow death, they are not suitable as a species for human harvesting and, contrary to myth, they are not responsible for reducing local fish stocks.”

What do you think? Would you go on a whale-eating trip or would you stick with whale-watching?


About Jennifer Mishler

Jennifer Mishler is a writer, and a vegan and animal activist. When she's not writing, you can often find her volunteering or advocating for animal, environmental and human rights causes. Along with writing for Ecorazzi, she has contributed writing for nonprofits like Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and enjoys blogging. She resides in the Washington, DC area (and loves all the vegan food it has to offer). Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @jennygonevegan.

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  • AnimuX

    There would be no whaling in Iceland if not for the corrupt influence of men like Gunnar Jonsson and Kristjan Loftsson who manage to convince the government of Iceland to subsidize, facilitate, and defend their little slaughter businesses. (no matter how detrimental it is to Iceland diplomatically)

    This move is as much a swipe at Iceland’s whale watching industry, which goes on in competition with whale killing in Iceland, as it is at anti-whaling organizations.

    The plan was originally announced at least a year ago. It’s been revived in the news media now because of the upcoming IWC meeting and the publicity received by new boycott campaigns led by WDCS and IFAW.

    The boycott campaigns specifically ask tourists to avoid eating whale meat or at restaurants that serve whale meat in Iceland.

  • Bev Bailey

    Many conservationists have been arguing that as whale meat and consumption reduces, whalers could swop to the more lucrative trade of whale-watching – I’d love to think this was a first step towards that but somehow I doubt it.

    The Government on the Faroe Islands (where the annual ‘grindadraps’ or dolphin drives take place) just reduced their recommendations for consumption of meat and blubber to no more than 4kg per adult, per year (June 2011) because of the high levels of methyl mercury and POPs. Average ‘catch figures’ produce enough to feed 10kg per adult per year.

    There’s been a small team from Earthrace Conservation on the Faroe Islands recently and they’ve reported that even some of those involved in the grindadraps (dolphin drives) agree there is too much wastage of meat and blubber because people are beginning to understand the health risks of eating it and are following the Government’s guidelines. Interestingly, even those who insist it’s safe to eat for themselves, have told Earthrace that they would NEVER feed whale meat or blubber to their children!

    There is even talk of the hunters being open to the idea of a quota limiting the number of dolphins they are allowed to hunt each year to reduce the wastage which would be a first, and a small step in the right direction.

    Ultimately, it will be the health risks to humans of eating cetacean meat and blubber that will stop whaling I believe. If no-one is eating it, there is no profit in it for anyone.

  • Kevin

    Just keep burning that coal, people… we’ll kill the cetaceans by frying their brains instead of their flesh, while celebrating that their own mercury poisoning keeps them from being eaten. Nice.

  • gina

    Spot on kevin! The whales and other animals need to be saved in more ways then one. :(

    • Kevin

      Thx gina… people need to be saved from this too. Regardless of what you think about vaccines and autism, there’s one scientific finding that hasn’t been disputed: if you grow up closer to a coal burning power plant, your risk of autism goes up. That may be or may not be mercury related, but it’s definitively true.

      • Pip

        No it is not definitely true that if you grow up closer to a coal power plant your risk of autism goes up.

        There is only one study I am aware of that keeps getting cited for this claim, a study by Dr. Palmer done in Texas. That study has had major holes pointed out, both in the sampling methodology and the poor statistical methods used. The same conclusion has not been repeated by any other researchers.

        And researchers that who gone over the original papers data with better statistical methods have show the real correlation appears to be with the number of ‘special needs students’ (which is what Dr. Palmer actually counted, not students with autism) and the population density. It seems that in more populated areas there is better/more medical services and thus a corresponding increase in diagnosis of ‘special needs’ (actually a corresponding increase in the diagnosis of just about every disease from autism to strep throat). Also areas with higher populations tend to have a higher tax base and thus more money for ‘special education classes’ in school and therefore more students in special education.