Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic June 29, 2012 - 9:47 am

Environmental groups attack Greenland’s request for increased whaling quotas

"This demand for more whale meat is clearly driven by the commercial consumer market"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Hunters in Kangiqsujuaq butcher Nunavik’s second bowhead whale in August 2009. Environmental groups are targeting Greenland's whale hunt as the members of International Whaling Commission prepare to hold their annual meeting in Panama. (FILE PHOTO)
Hunters in Kangiqsujuaq butcher Nunavik’s second bowhead whale in August 2009. Environmental groups are targeting Greenland's whale hunt as the members of International Whaling Commission prepare to hold their annual meeting in Panama. (FILE PHOTO)

With days to go before the International Whaling Commission meets from July 2 to July 4 in Panama, environmental groups are trying to discredit Denmark’s request for a larger aboriginal whale hunt quota for Greenland.

Greenland wants the IWC, the management group that determines worldwide quotas for large whales, to approve a quota of 221 large whales a year for the next six years, for a total of 1,326 whales.

“I’m waiting eagerly for the results and expect that the IWC will decide based on scientific evidence, facts, and the accepted requirements for meat of 670 tonnes of large whales in West Greenland,” Ane Hansen, Greenland’s minister of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture, said in a recent statement.

But according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Greenland doesn’t need more whale meat for its subsistence or cultural needs.

The group claims restaurants in Greenland wants to hunt more whale meat to satisfy tourists.

Its investigators visiting Greenland documented restaurants and hotels “deliberately targeting tourists by placing bowhead and other whale meat on their menus.”

“The investigations also revealed supermarkets openly selling endangered fin whale and other whale meats, all freely available for visitors to the country to buy,” said the WDCS.

Endangered fin whale was among the whale products available for visitors to buy in supermarkets, said the WDCS.

“The Danish government’s claims that Greenland needs to kill more whales for nutritional and cultural needs is laughable,” said WDCS chief executive Chris Butler-Stroud on the group’s website. “Who is this meat really for? Our investigation report shows that this demand for more whale meat is clearly driven by the commercial consumer market, not by aboriginal needs.”

Greenland’s population has increased by about 9.9 per cent over the past 24 years and yet, “the request for more large whales by Greenland in the same period has increased by 89 per cent,” he said.

“Even the number of licensed subsistence hunters in Greenland has declined between 1993 and 2010 by a massive 49 per cent.”

The Animal Welfare Institute completed a follow-on survey in June 2012, via telephone and email, of all restaurants in Greenland for which contact information was available. The survey showed whale meat, including fin, bowhead and minke whale, was available to tourists at 24 out of 31 restaurants.

If approved, Greenland’s yearly whale quota will include 190 minke whales, 19 fin whales, 10 humpback whales and 2 bowhead whales.

At the IWC meeting, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Fisheries Service is proposing an overall quota of 306 bowheads between 2013 and 2018 for Inupiat whalers in Alaska.

In 1946, Canada was one of the founding members of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which created the IWC.

But Canada left the IWC in 1981, shortly before the IWC imposed a ban on commercial whaling. Because Canada is not a member of the IWC, its decisions don’t affect the future of the Nunavut bowhead or whale hunts.

Canada still attends IWC meetings as a non-voting observer, although anti-whaling members have called Canada a “pirate whaler.” In 1996, the IWC passed a resolution condemning Canada’s bowhead hunt in the Western and Eastern Arctic.

But Canada maintains it fulfills international law by participating in the scientific arm of the IWC and through its land claim deals and co-management groups.

 

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