Greenpeace MV Esperanza arrived in Icelandic whaling center, Isafjordur
Isafjordur 22 June 2004 - "Choose the future, not whaling", was the message communicated when the Greenpeace ship, MV Esperanza arrived at the port of Isafjordur, the number one Icelandic whaling center. The port visit is the first stop in this year's shiptour in Iceland. During the day Greenpeace will meet with locals communities, whalers and fishermen to discuss the future of whaling in Iceland.
The Icelandic government recently announced that they will put their so called "scientific" whaling programme on hold and limit this year's take to 25 minke whales. The planned take of 500 whales, including sei and fin, during a 2 year period, has been cancelled due to a strong domestic criticism combined with the lack of a market for whale products.
A total of 36 minke whales were caught last year when Iceland, despite massive global protests, resumed whaling again for the first time in 14 years. (1)
"Iceland is on the border between old and new, future and past", said Greenpeace International Ocean Campaigner, Frode Pleym. "The Government of Iceland should make the obvious wise decision and cancel the entire programme. By choosing the only truly sustainable future path, Iceland can set an example for other whaling nations to follow and secure a future for the people of this country".
The market for whale meat is small and decreasing in whaling nations Iceland, Norway and Japan due to changed eating habits and the level of environmental toxins in the whale products. Iceland still has an ample supply of whale meat left over since last year's take and no future market is in sight.
The growing domestic opposition to whaling came as a surprise to the Government. The Icelandic travel industry association and the whale watching operators have made it clear that a restart of whaling in Iceland will damage the reputation of the nation and decrease the amount of tourists visiting. Tourism and whale watching has become one of the major sources of income in Iceland.
"Early indications are that eco tourism- and whale watching in particular- , is already suffering because of whaling, said Frode Pleym."
Last autumn Greenpeace launched an offer to the Icelandic Government showing the clear economic and environmental gain in choosing sustainable tourism over whaling. By taking a pledge people worldwide pledged to consider a vacation in Iceland rather than somewhere else if whaling was stopped. So far almost 60 000 people worldwide have taken the pledge representing over 60 million USD in tourism value versus 4 million USD from commercial whaling when it was last active. (2)
" The Icelandic Government has a golden opportunity to chose living whales and eco tourism over whaling", said Pleym. "At the IWC meeting next month, the government can announce that the two year research programme is finished and that neither research whaling nor commercial whaling will play part in Iceland's future".
Onboard the Esperanza are Greenpeace activists from 17 countries. The next stop during the tour is Husavik, Icelands whale watching center. After that the Esperanza will head for Reykjavik where Greenpeace will participate in this years OSPAR meeting. (3)
Read more about the Esperanza shiptour and the daily updates from US Cyberactivist Marnee Benson onboard who by her work to promote the Pledge and recruit pledgers "won" a trip on the Esperanza. She will be assisting Greenpeace during the Icelandic whaling tour. http://weblog.greenpeace.org/iceland Take the pledge on: http://www.icelandwhalespledge.com
Notes to editor
(2) Through the Greenpeace website and other communications to our supporters, we ask people around the world to participate in protecting vulnerable areas and species through appropriate opportunities, including visiting Iceland. Read more on www.icelandwhalespledge.com
(3) This years OSPAR meeting
is taking place in Reykjavik from the 28th of June to 4th
of July. Historically it has focused on marine pollution.
OSPAR, The Convention for the Protection of the Marine
Environment of the North-East Atlantic ("OSPAR Convention")
was opened for signature at the Ministerial Meeting of the
Oslo and Paris Commissions in Paris on 22 September 1992.
The Convention has been signed and ratified by Belgium,
Denmark, the Commission of the European Communities,
Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the
Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Luxembourg