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					University of Iceland
Faculty of Humanities
Lecture: Icelandic Culture
Autumn 2006




                   Whaling in Iceland
                                –
                       In search of reasons




Padhelm
1. Introduction


Iceland decided on the 17th October 2006 to go back to commercial whaling, named as
sustainable whaling, and fixed a hunting quota of 30 mink and nine fin whales until August
2007 additional to the quota for scientific research. With the killing of the first fin whale on
the 21 October 2006 Iceland broke the moratorium of the IWC (International Whaling
Commission), which bans commercial whaling. Iceland argues not to offend against this
moratorium, because it “rejoined the IWC in 2002 with a reservation to the moratorium. This
reservation is not recognized by anti-whaling countries.”1 I will discuss this point later more
in detail.
As a supporter of the Whales and Dolphins Conservation Society (WDCS) this new situation
in Iceland persuaded me to choose Whaling in Iceland as the topic of my Icelandic Culture-
Essay. It is my aim to answer the questions if Iceland has strong arguments for the resumption
of commercial whaling, either traditional or economical. During this essay it shall also
become clear to what extent whaling and the consumption of whale meat is a part of Iceland‟s
history and culture. Therefore I will look back to the beginnings of whaling in Iceland and its
history, as well as its tradition. Then I will discuss Iceland‟s resumption of commercial
whaling concerning to the statement of the Icelandic government to the critics in the public
and on the political scale.2 In this part I dwell also on the economical importance of whaling.


2. History of whaling in Iceland


The Ministry of Fisheries answer the question if Iceland has a long whaling history as
follows: “Utilisation of whale resources has been a traditional part of Iceland‟s history,
providing an important dietary component throughout the ages.”3 Whale meat is a kind of
traditional Icelandic food as it was regularly eaten in saga and historic times when it was
available, usually washed up rather than hunted.4 It was during the centuries a welcome
change of the daily menu, but no regularly meal which you can find on every week‟s diet.



1
  Wikipedia (2006). Whaling. Retrieved November 22, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling
2
  The statement you will find in the appendix. A similar declaration published the Ministry of Fishery on its
webpage: Ministry of Fisheries (2006). Declaration by the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries. Retrieved november
25, 2006 from http://eng.sjavarutvegsraduneyti.is/news-and-articles//nr/1300
3
  Ministry of Fisheries (2006). Iceland Resumption of Sustainable Whaling, Questions and Answers. Retrieved
november 25, 2006 from http://eng.sjavarutvegsraduneyti.is/news-and-articles//nr/1299 (question 4)
4
  Lindquist, Ole, Peasant Fisherman Whaling in the Northeast Antlantic Area, CA 900-1900 AD, Akureyri 1997,
p. 29.
Whaling itself is present in Icelandic waters since the island became populated, but it has been
mainly conducted by Norwegians, Danish and Basques. The Icelanders themselves didn‟t
begin subsistence whaling before 1935. Some annals and similar sources recorded sporadic
drive beaching between 1583 and 17975 and “there exist numerous accounts of
Norwegian/Samish and Icelandic whaling” – mostly practiced by foreign land stations –
“which show it to be spearing and as such relying on recovery of the carcasses through
driftage: Whale spearing continued … in Northwest Iceland to 1894 or 1896”.6 Some sources
reports about hand harpoon tow whaling with the beginning of the 17th century, but the
Danish had no success to establish this kind of whaling in Iceland. 7 However these cases may
not be unduly generalised.
Later with the beginning of modern whaling in 18838 also English, Germans and other nations
practiced whaling in Icelandic waters. Until 1915 they killed about 17,000 whales.9 This
overexploitation caused to a ban of all whaling in Icelandic waters 1915 by the Icelandic
parliament. However Iceland didn‟t take part in the modern whaling from 1883 to 1915 as the
Ministry of Fisheries proves: “… banned all whaling in 1915, after a period of
overexploitation from foreign land-stations in Iceland during the period 1883-1915.”10 The
ban lasted until 1935. During this time Iceland had set up its own commercial whaling
operation with a single whaling station located in Hvalfjord and from 1935 on they mostly
hunted sei, fin and sperm whales. In the period from 1935 to 1939 also some blue and
humpback whales were hunted, but this was soon prohibited due to decimated number. They
hunted also mink whales, but it was not statistically registered before 1974. Until 1985
Iceland killed about 20,000 whales.11
In the year 1982 the IWC, which Iceland had joined 1948, adopted a moratorium on
commercial whaling which took effect in 1985/1986. The Icelandic government decided not
to lodge a reservation as Norway did and stopped all commercial whaling. 12 But it found a
loophole in this Convention, which allowed whaling for the purpose of scientific research.


5
  Lindquist, Peasant Fisherman Whaling, p. 29.
6
  Ibid. p. 41.
7
  Ibid. p. 56f.
8
  Wikipedia (2006). Whaling. Retrieved November 22, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling
9
  Wikipedia (2006). Whaling in Iceland. Retrieved November 21, 2006 from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling_in_Iceland; Pro Wildlife (2006). Iceland‟s whaling comeback. Retrieved
November 25, 2006 from http://www.prowildlife.de/en/Projects/Iceland-report-english.pdf (page 3)
10
   Ministry of Fisheries (2006). Iceland Resumption of Sustainable Whaling, Questions and Answers. Retrieved
november 25, 2006 from http://eng.sjavarutvegsraduneyti.is/news-and-articles//nr/1299 (question 4)
11
   Pro Wildlife (2006). Iceland‟s whaling comeback. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://www.prowildlife.de/en/Projects/Iceland-report-english.pdf (page 3)
12
   “Iceland 29 to 28 for the whales” (1983), in: Whales vs. Whalers. A Continuing Commentary published by the
Animal Welfare Institute, Washington DC 1995.
Iceland started a few months later such a program, which permits to catch 80 fin and 40 sei
whales annually.13 Under strong pressure of anti-whaling countries and a boycott campaign
against Icelandic fish by Greenpeace and other organisations the Icelandic government
decided 1989 to stop whaling at all.14 Two years later Iceland tried to get the allowance for
sustainable commercial whaling of mink whales with a recommendation of its Scientific
Committee, but the IWC refused. In the following year Iceland withdraw from the IWC.15 It
tried to establish a new international organization for the conservation and utilization of
whales in form of NAMMCO (North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission) to resume
catches of mink whales. This aim remained unsuccessful. The reasons are the followings: The
UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which Iceland had signed, defines to utilize marine
mammals only in cooperation with other nations under the auspices of the appropriate
international organizations. However the other members of NAMMCO (Norway, Greenland
and Faroese) weren‟t able or content to speak about Iceland‟s start of mink whale catching.
As well stated a report “that the political significance of environmental affairs and whale
conservation in Iceland‟s main market countries, and the countries with which it collaborated,
was such that if whaling were resumed, … the losses would be outweigh the profits”.16
Iceland lost also its only lucrative market for whale meat, Japan. The “taking of scientific
samples occasionally „delayed the flensing process by up to 12 hours‟”, which “interfered
with Japanese requirements for the quality of imported whale meat.”17 With the withdrawing
from the IWC Iceland lost also its accepted reservation to the ban of non-explosive cold
harpoons, which was established in 1979. Iceland hunted minke whales until 1992 still with
these cold harpoons. Wanted it still sell its whale meat – and the main markets were in IWC-
members states – it had to import explosive harpoons from Norway as it did not manufacture
them domestically. However Norway was not allowed to export whaling equipment to non-
IWC member states.18
After ten years without whaling and any success Iceland decided to rejoin the IWC with a
reservation to the moratorium on commercial whaling from 1982. This reservation is not
accepted by all members of the IWC because Iceland had already adopted this moratorium
13
   Jóhann Viðar Ívarsson, Science, Sanctions and Cetaceans. Iceland and the Whaling Issue, Reykjavik 1994, p.
32. “Iceland plays the „science‟ card” (1986), in: Whales vs. Whalers. “Whaling for Science” (1987), in: Whales
vs. Whalers.
14
   The whole campaign and its results is described in Ívarsson, Science, Sanctions and Cetaceans, pp. 83-133.
15
   Wikipedia (2006). Whaling in Iceland. Retrieved November 21, 2006 from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling_in_Iceland
16
   Jóhann Ívarsson, Science, Sanctions and Cetaceans, p. 198.
17
   Pro Wildlife (2006). Iceland‟s whaling comeback. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://www.prowildlife.de/en/Projects/Iceland-report-english.pdf (page 5)
18
   Pro Wildlife (2006). Iceland‟s whaling comeback. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://www.prowildlife.de/en/Projects/Iceland-report-english.pdf (page 6).
when it was still a member of the IWC. Iceland argues now with the resumption of the
commercial whaling in 2006 that “its departure and re-entry had "reset" its international
obligations under the IWC.”19
In 2003 Iceland presented at the IWC meeting a scientific research study “to take 100 minke,
100 fin, and 50 sei in each of 2003 and 2004. The primary aim of the study was to deepen the
understanding of fish-whale interactions”. The IWC came to no decision and so the Icelandic
government issued permits for scientific catch under the terms of the convention: 38 minke
whales in 2003, 25 in 2004 and 39 in 2005.20 In October 2006 Iceland resumed commercial
whaling.


3. Why Iceland does resumed commercial whaling?
3.1.Discussion of Iceland‟s statement


Iceland sent as a reaction to protest emails, sent by anti-whaling campaigners, an official
statement to explain its reasons for the resumption of commercial whaling. When I got this
official email I sent it back with several comments. Also the WDCS published a response to
this letter. In the following part I will discuss several points of the statement. I will quote
every point and give some explanations which base on the WDCS response and arguments
pro and against whaling listed in the Wikipedia-article “Whaling”, as well as in several
articles and scientific studies.


“I wish to assure you that Iceland has no intention of catching any of the endangered species
of whales, killed on a large scale by other whaling nations in the past. Iceland’s resumption
of sustainable whaling only involves abundant stocks and is linked to Iceland’s overall policy
of sustainable utilisation of marine resources.”
This argument is correct related to the minke whales which are listed by The World
Conservation Union (IUCN) under the status “Lower Risk (Near Threatened)”. The IUCN is
the international scientific body that decides the conservations status of species worldwide.
On its list the fin whale which is also hunted by Iceland is listed as “Endangered” and is so
one of the red list species.21 The decision “was made on the basis of one of the criteria,
namely „an estimated decline of at least 50% worldwide over the last three generations

19
   WDCS (2006). WDCS Response to Iceland‟s letter supporting commercial hunts. Retrieved November 25,
2006 from http://de.wdcs.org/download/response.pdf
20
   Wikipedia (2006). Whaling in Iceland. Retrieved November 21, 2006 from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling_in_Iceland
21
   Wikipedia (2006). Whaling. Retrieved November 22, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling
(assumed generation time 20-25 years....).‟ … Both the fin and minke whale are listed by
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
on its Appendix I species. They are defined as "threatened with extinction" and international
commercial trade in their parts and derivatives is banned.”22
As well Iceland belongs to these whaling nations that killed a large number of whales in the
past, as I have shown before.


“Several countries catch whales, most of them on a much bigger scale than Iceland. The
biggest whaling countries among the members of the International Whaling Commission
(IWC) are the United States, Russia, Norway, Japan and Greenland. The whaling operations
practiced by all those countries, as well as Iceland, are sustainable and legal and in
accordance with the rules of the IWC.”
It is right that Norway and Japan hunt whales in a bigger scale than Iceland – Japan referring
to scientific research and Norway for commerce as it had lodged a reservation against the
moratorium on commercial whaling. The other named countries belong to a special category,
so called “aboriginal subsistence whaling”, which is distinguished from commercial whaling.
It is only allowed if certain criteria are met, and the non-commercial nature of the hunt is
proven. To this group belong the natives of Greenland, of the Russian Federation, of St.
Vincent and the Grenadines and of the USA.23


“Iceland fully appreciates the need for careful conservation of marine resources. Our
economy depends on those resources as marine products constitute around 60% of Iceland’s
revenue from exported goods and almost 40% of all Icelandic exported goods and services.
Disruption of the ecological balance in Icelandic waters due to overfishing or other reasons
could have catastrophic consequences for the livelihood of Icelanders.”
As the current crisis of global fisheries worsens, the whalers argue that a cull of marine
mammals would resolve their problems. However this “argument is inconsistent: If the catch
of whales is small enough not to negatively affect whale stocks, it is also too small to
positively affect fish stocks.”24 This fact is proved by the Ministry of Fishery in its whaling-


22
   WDCS (2006). WDCS Response to Iceland‟s letter supporting commercial hunts. Retrieved November 25,
2006 from http://de.wdcs.org/download/response.pdf
23
   International Whaling Commission (2006). Aboriginal subsistence whaling. Retrieved November 25, 2006
from http://www.iwcoffice.org/conservation/aboriginal.htm. International Whaling Commission (2006). The
Shedule to the Convention. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://www.iwcoffice.org/commission/schedule.htm (paragraph 13).
24
   Wikipedia (2006). Whaling. Retrieved November 22, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling
defending paper: “Therefore, the catches will not have significant impact on these highly
abundant whale populations.”25
Whalers say that marine mammals eat 3 to 6 times the global marine commercial fishery catch
– 600 million tons compared with 150 million tons. These numbers approve Professor Daniel
Pauly, Director of the Fisheries Center at the University of British Columbia, in his and
Kristin Kaschners report “Competition between Marine Mammals and Fisheries: Food for
Thought”.26 However both show that this fact had and has no impact on the declining of the
global fishery and the fish stocks. They “generated estimates of global food consumption by
marine mammals for comparison with fisheries catches, using a similar type of simple model
but one which also considers the compositions of diets and catches and spatial distribution of
both marine mammals and fisheries. Results indeed indicate that the amounts taken by marine
mammals exceed global fisheries catches. However, by incorporating information about the
types of food taken by marine mammals, we show that most food consumed by marine
mammals consists of prey types that fisheries do not target. By combining estimates of total
food consumption with a new mapping approach, we further demonstrate that marine
mammals consume most of their food in areas where humans do not fish.”27 In the case of
Iceland the Foreign Minister of Iceland stated that “whales are our competitors. Is has been
estimated that the whales and dolphins in our waters annually consume more than 5 millions
tons of fish and other prey species. This compares with 1.0-1.5 million tons of fish taken
annually by Icelandic fishermen …”.28 The pro-whaling side forgets in their argumentation
that whales also eat species that prey on commercial fish species and that the whales are in the
“Icelandic waters” for only a part of each year. Therefore, a direct comparison of
consumption of whales and the landing of Icelandic fisheries is not appropriate. These points
has shown that the whales are not responsible for the decline of global fisheries catches, the
global fisheries themselves with their mismanagement over the last centuries led to the
collapse of many fish stocks and a continuous decline since the 1980s.

25
   Ministry of Fisheries (2006). Iceland Resumption of Sustainable Whaling, Questions and Answers. Retrieved
november 25, 2006 from http://eng.sjavarutvegsraduneyti.is/news-and-articles//nr/1299 (question 7)
26
   Human Society International (2006). Competition between Marine Mammals and Fisheries: Food for Thought.
Retrieved November 24, 2006 from
http://www.hsi.org.au/protection_wildlife&habitat/images/Daniel_Pauly_Report.pdf. Dr. Sidney Holt presents
similar result in his study: WDCS (29006). Whales Competing? Retrieved November 24, 2006 from
http://www.wdcs.org/dan/publishing.nsf/fde0b34d9e1c31fc80256d040047b2b6/72153d540567218b8025717e00
2fcf0c/$FILE/Whales%20Competing.pdf
27
   Human Society International (2006). Competition between Marine Mammals and Fisheries: Food for Thought.
Retrieved November 24, 2006 from
http://www.hsi.org.au/protection_wildlife&habitat/images/Daniel_Pauly_Report.pdf (page 5).
28
   Ásgrímssón (1999): Welcoming Address, World Council of Whalers, General Assembly, March 27 th-30th,
Reykjavik – quoted in: Pro Wildlife (2006). Iceland‟s whaling comeback. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://www.prowildlife.de/en/Projects/Iceland-report-english.pdf (page 12).
“For a number of years, Iceland has acknowledged the need for scientific research on whales
to gain a better understanding of the interaction between the different whale stocks and other
marine species and the role of whales in the marine ecosystem. Therefore, Iceland began
implementing a research plan on minke whales in 2003.”
This scientific research is allowed in article VIII of the International Convention for the
Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), but it shall not serve as a commercial source of meat. This
idea of scientific research is old-fashioned and “there are non-lethal techniques that can be
used in order to obtain information on whale diets and life history, and much data already
exists on that subject.”29 The study of Daniel Pauly for examples which I mentioned before
shows clearly that there is no simple relationship between the fish eaten by the whales and the
depletion of commercial fisheries. On the other side the number of whales which will be
killed during the scientific research will have no impact on the whale population (as shown
before) and so there won‟t be any relevant results to the whale-fish-interaction.
It is not the first time that Iceland killed whales under a scientific research plan. In 1986, one
year after it had accepted the moratorium on commercial whaling, Iceland started a program
with a quote of 120 killed whales with the aim to “increase scientific knowledge on the status
of whale stocks around Iceland and create the necessary foundation for a reassessment of the
effects of a whaling moratorium before the year 1990.” Twenty-one biologists protested
against this plan because “the research of the Marine Research Institute on live whales is
likely to substantially increase knowledge on the numbers, distribution and behaviour of
whales and make it possible to estimate the potential yield of whale populations in Icelandic
waters. The same cannot be said about „scientific whaling‟. Despite the collection of data
from whaling for decades it has not proved possible to determine the size and potential yield
of whale population in Icelandic waters. The current program of „scientific whaling‟ will do
little to improve this situation.”30 Also the Icelandic Nature Preservation Council stood up
against the proposal.31




29
   WDCS (2006). WDCS Response to Iceland‟s letter supporting commercial hunts. Retrieved November 25,
2006 from http://de.wdcs.org/download/response.pdf
30
   „Public statement by Icelandic biologists“ (1987), in: Whales vs. Whalers.
31
   „Icelandic Protesters vs. Whalers“ (1987), in: Whales vs. Whalers.
3.2.Has whaling an economical importance?


The annual income of whaling during the years of scientific whaling (1985-89) was estimated
to be close to US$ 3-4 million and it supports only a few jobs (one company).32 Compared to
another economic sector, which benefits from the whales, the economic relevance of whaling
is very little. This mentioned sector is the Whale Watching, which is the “fastest growing
sector of the Icelandic tourism industry with an exceptional potential for further growth and
development.”33 In 2000 45.500 tourists went whale watching, in 2003 over 72.000 and in
2006 about 89.000. The direct value of the whale watching business in Iceland was estimated
in December 2003 to be close to US$ 24.2 million and in 2004 to US$ 27 million.34 Not only
whale watching companies benefits from whale watching, also hotels, guesthouses,
restaurants, shops and many more. So it provides and assures much more jobs than whaling.
The question is now, if this development continues regarding to the resumption of the
commercial whaling. The statistics show that the “implementation of a program that includes
the taking of whales for scientific purposes does not seem to have affected tourism to Iceland
in any way.”35 Nevertheless the Icelandic Whale Watching Association is afraid about the
future of whale watching and protests against commercial whaling and counters the
governmental arguments.


The pro-whaling party mentions sometimes the need of whale meat for the local market.
However the whale meat consumption has decreased further even the last two decades and a
“recent poll of Icelanders by anti-whalers found that only 1% of Icelanders eat whale meat
once a week or more, while 82.4% of 16- to 24-year-olds never eat whale meat.”36 It is also a
fact that Iceland exported the most of his whale meat in the time of modern whaling. “Iceland
had never consumed more than a small fraction of the whales it had taken, and sold most of



32
   These facts are listed in the summary „Whale Hunting and Whale Watching in Iceland (Update, May 2004)”
of a WDCS briefing on page 2. The English version is in the appendix, the German version is available in the
internet: WDCS Deutschland (2006). Walfang und Walbeobachtung in Island (Update, Mai 2004). Retrieved
November 23, 2006 from http://www.wdcs-de.org/dan/de-
publishing.nsf/3407a7cfbdb55092802568fc004da197/22cfba44611601fdc1256c000051dea8/$FILE/Briefing.pdf
33
   Global 500 (2006). Report from Abbi, Husavik, Iceland (2000 Laureate). Retrieved November 23, 2006 from
http://www.global500.org/news_135.html
34
   Pro Wildlife (2006). Iceland‟s whaling comeback. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://www.prowildlife.de/en/Projects/Iceland-report-english.pdf (page 11); Global 500 (2006). Commercial
Whaling v/s Whale Watching. Retrieved November 27, 2006 from http://www.global500.org/news_202.html
35
   Ministry of Fisheries (2006). Iceland Resumption of Sustainable Whaling, Questions and Answers. Retrieved
november 25, 2006 from http://eng.sjavarutvegsraduneyti.is/news-and-articles//nr/1299 (question 19)
36
   Guardian Unlimited Environment (2006). Death on the High Seas. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://environment.guardian.co.uk/conservation/story/0,,1925584,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1
the meat to Japan.”37 However the international market is meanwhile saturated. Norway had
to turn some of its catches into pet food as Iceland. Japan spends its whale meat to schools to
get rid of it and began its new whaling season with 3900 tons of whale meat in the industrial
freezers – 45% more as last year.38
Two more examples show the absence of a strong local and international market for whale
meat: In February 1986 only 130 tons of the last year‟s whale catch (2000 tons) had been
consumed. 39 In 2004, just a quarter of the whale meat taken by the Icelandic whaling fleet
was actually sold. The country's industrial freezers are full of unsold whale from previous
seasons.40


4. Conclusion


The Icelandic government give several reasons for its resumption of commercial whaling, but
the main argument is an economic one: careful conservation of marine resources or “the
whales eat our fish”. However my comments and several scientific studies have shown that
this meaning is wrong and the main reason of the depletion of global fisheries isn‟t the whale
but the human himself through overexploitation of fish stocks. Whaling threaten rather a fast
growing economic sector in Iceland, the Whale Watching, and make on the other side only
little profit as there is no strong local market and the international market is already saturated.
Also cultural or traditional attitudes aren‟t very strong as I have shown that Iceland hasn‟t a
long whaling tradition and the consumption of whale meat isn‟t such an important part of the
Icelandic diet and not necessary to the Icelanders survival. Otherwise they would be listed
under aboriginal subsistence whaling. Also declines the consumption of whale meat
continuously.
However powerful families, who are involved in government, banking and major businesses,
control the ownership of the one existing whaling company Hvalur hf.. This could be perhaps
an explanation that the company is still working, using scientific whaling in the last years as a
pretext.41 The government find also in the public a very high support for commercial whaling,
about 70-80% as polls repeatedly have shown. An opinion poll made by the newspaper DV in

37
   Jóhann Ívarsson, Science, Sanctions and Cetaceans, p. 25.
38
   WDCS Deutschland (2006). Japan: Walfangquote im Pazifik nicht erreicht. Retrieved November 22, 2006
from http://www.wdcs-de.org/dan/de-
news.nsf/webnews/451D1854F2BA36FB8025721E00396266?opendocument
39
   „Whaling for Science“ (1987), in: Whales vs. Whalers.
40
   Guardian Unlimited Environment (2006). Death on the High Seas. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://environment.guardian.co.uk/conservation/story/0,,1925584,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1
41
   Brydon, Anne, Icelandic Nationalism and the Whaling Issue, in: Vestergaard, Elisabeth (editor), Whaling
Communities (North Atlantic Studies vol. 2), Aarhus 1990, pp. 185-191, here: p. 189.
October 1985 show that 81.6% are in favour for whaling42 and in April 1993 83.6% supported
whaling.43 A poll, conducted by Gallup for IFAW and Greenpeace in the year 2004, shows
still a high support for whaling (67.3%), as well a decline.44 In my opinion there are no
cultural or scientific reasons. Also the economical factor shouldn‟t be an explanation because
it isn‟t so important. However it is possible that the Icelanders believe the explanations of
their government.
The Icelandic novelist and economic analyst Sigrun Davidsdottir give another good reason:
“But behind this decision [whaling or not] is a real fear that if we allow ourselves to be
dictated to about whaling, then the world will start telling us what we can and cannot fish.
This is what is really important. The real issue is fishing, and safeguarding our fishing
grounds.” Whaling is a kind of national pride and a way to show Iceland‟s independence. In
my opinion it is the most authentic explanation.


During this research my attitudes to whaling changed a little bit. I don‟t refuse whaling at all
anymore, but see acceptable reasons for aboriginal subsistence whaling. If sustainable
commercial whaling depending on a real demand of the local market could be possible
someday is a complicated question and I found no real answer yet. On the one side the
humans eat fish, cows, chicken and other bird species, pigs which have an attested high
intelligence, and other animals. Why shouldn‟t they eat whale meat? On the other side
farming of the most of the mentioned animals is possible, but not of whales. The whale
populations are still very low and we have to less knowledge about their habits, their food,
their reproduction or the influences of whaling. Also the question if the method of killing is
human has to be a part of this discussion and we have to remember that whaling is not the
only hazard for whales. They are threatened for example through pollution, global warming
and noise pollution by sonar. In these days whales need still our continuous protection and the
whaling countries should stop their so-called whaling for scientific research, which is in my
opinion only a pretext. It should be calculated what the objective need of whale meat is and
commercial whaling will be eventually possible under strict rules and quotas. However
nowadays we have to live with the faults of our ancestors, who nearly exterminated the
whales in the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.




42
   Jóhann Ívarsson, Science, Sanctions and Cetaceans, p. 103/04.
43
   Morgunblaðið, DV, Tíminn, 3rd March 1993 – quoted in: Ívarsson, Science, Sanctions and Cetaceans, p. 179.
44
   Greenpeace (2006). Icelandic whaling-opinion. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://mailman.greenpeace.org/pipermail/press-releases/2004-July/000050.html
5. Bibliography


a) Books

Brydon, Anne, Icelandic Nationalism and the Whaling Issue, in: Vestergaard, Elisabeth
(editor), Whaling Communities (North Atlantic Studies vol. 2), Aarhus 1990

Jóhann Viðar Ívarsson, Science, Sanctions and Cetaceans. Iceland and the Whaling Issue,
Reykjavik 1994.

Lindquist, Ole, Peasant Fisherman Whaling in the Northeast Antlantic Area, CA 900-1900
AD, Akureyri 1997.

Report of the Workshop on the Socioeconomic Aspects of Whale Watching, Kaikoura, New
Zealand, 8th - 12th December 1997, Yarmouth Port 1999.

The Institute of Cetacean Research, Public Perception of Whaling, Tokyo 1994.

Whales vs. Whalers. A Continuing Commentary published by the Animal Welfare Institute,
Washington DC 1995.

b) Internet

Global 500 (2006). Commercial Whaling v/s Whale Watching. Retrieved November 27, 2006
from http://www.global500.org/news_202.html

Global 500 (2006). Report from Abbi, Husavik, Iceland (2000 Laureate). Retrieved
November 23, 2006 from http://www.global500.org/news_135.html

Greenpeace (2006). Icelandic whaling-opinion. Retrieved November 25, 2006 from
http://mailman.greenpeace.org/pipermail/press-releases/2004-July/000050.html

Guardian Unlimited Environment (2006). Death on the High Seas. Retrieved November 25,
2006 from
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