International Whaling Commission Rejects Commercial Whaling Bid by Greenland

EU and Latin American Countries Oppose While US Shamefully Supports

Panama City, Panama: The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) report that the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has firmly rejected a proposal by Greenland that would have put more whale meat on restaurant menus in tourist hotels.  Thirty-four countries, including all the attending members of the European Union with the exception of Denmark, and all Latin American countries rightly opposed the draft proposal, which sought an increase in Greenland’s aboriginal subsistence whaling (ASW) quota.  The United States joined countries that have consistently supported commercial whaling in voting for Greenland’s proposal.

This action by the IWC came on the heels of last week’s revelations by AWI and WDCS that whale meat is sold in 77% of tourist restaurants in Greenland—information that galvanized opposing countries to reject Greenland’s claim that it needed to expand its existing ASW in order to meet the needs of Greenlanders. Despite a clear indication that its draft proposal would be rejected, Denmark, acting on behalf of Greenland, elected to proceed with a vote on the six additional humpback and 18 additional fin whales sought over the next six years. 

“Considering the significant commercial sale of whale meat in Greenland, the US vote for this proposal is a vote endorsing commercial whaling and undermining the 1986 commercial whaling moratorium,” reports Susan Millward, Executive Director of AWI. “The American people should be outraged by this radical shift in US policy supporting commercial whaling after decades of strenuous opposition to this cruel slaughter.”

Following visits by AWI and WDCS to Greenland in 2011, a telephone/email survey by AWI in late June 2012 revealed that the majority of its restaurants offer whale meat from the ASW quota to tourists, and further confirmed that “native food tourism” is actively promoted by the government and is taking hold in the country. Disembarking cruise ship passengers and other tourists are invited to dine on barbequed whale, whale burgers, whale with tagliatelli and tomato sauce, and whale carpaccio.Travelcompanies also advertise tours that includewhale meat served in Greenlanders’ homes, in camps,or at lodges.

In rejecting Greenland’s claim that its current quota is insufficient, members of the IWC pointed out that ASW quotas are intended for remote local communities with few other protein options, not for the entire population of Greenland—most of whom now live in urban areas—and certainly not for foreign tourists. The Commissioners also made clear that if there was a true deficit of whale meat under the current quotas, hunters would take their full current quota.

Vanesa Tossenberger, Whaling Program Lead with WDCS, expressed relief at the IWC’s rejection of the quota increase, saying, “We applaud the EU and Latin countries for taking a stand in opposition to this outrageous proposal from Denmark and Greenland—a proposal without merit and inconsistent with IWC requirements. The IWC sets ASW quotas to satisfy genuine nutritional subsistence and cultural needs, not the culinary curiosity of tourists.”

Millward added, “Stopping the quota increase at the IWC is only the start of the battle. Now we have to educate tourists from the U.S., Europe and Latin America to reject whale meat when they see it on restaurant menus.”


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