The International Whaling Commission (IWC) established a global ban on commercial whaling in 1986, but whaling continues in some countries due to loopholes for “research” or “subsistence” whaling. Japan is one country that maintains that their whaling operations are for research purposes, continuing to whale in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary – the ocean battleground of Whale Wars.
Aboriginal subsistence whaling has been allowed by the IWC to continue in Greenland, but the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) has found that Greenland’s whale meat is not going to locals but to tourists. According to Treehugger, the organization found large amounts of whale meat available in stores as well as restaurants and hotels. Meat from minke, bowhead and even endangered fin whales was readily available to visiting tourists.
Despite selling most of its whale meat to tourists, Greenland, a territory of Denmark, has claimed that they need to increase their whale quota for its aboriginal population. The WDCS says in their report, “These revelations come on the eve of the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (the international body that regulates whaling) in Panama in July, where Denmark is set to ask that it be allowed to kill more whales in future years to meet the nutritional subsistence needs of the native population in Greenland…At this year’s IWC meeting , Denmark will argue that they want to take almost double the number of endangered fin whales (10 to 19) and increase the number of humpbacks they kill without a review for at least six years.”
WDCS CEO Chris Butler-Stroud adds “The Danish government’s claims that Greenland needs to kill more whales for nutritional and cultural needs is laughable…Greenland’s native-born population has increased by around just 9.9% in the last 24 years and yet, the request for more large whales by Greenland in the same period has increased by 89%. Even the number of licensed subsistence hunters in Greenland has declined between 1993 and 2010 by a massive 49%.”
The WDCS believes their findings will lead to Denmark’s request being rejected at the IWC meeting next month. The group also warns that it is illegal for any tourists to bring whale meat back from Greenland into the UK, EU or US and could result in time in prison.
This isn’t the first time that Greenland has asked for an increase in allowed whale kills. In a 2010 report, WDCS wrote that Greenland has asked year after year to kill 10 more humpback whales in order to “meet its aboriginal subsistence needs.”
Photo Credit: kavring / http://www.shutterstock.com