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Whale hunt gets go ahead from Icelandic government


Whale hunt gets go ahead from Icelandic government

Reykjavik, Iceland 5 July 2005 -- Greenpeace today strongly criticised the Icelandic government' s decision to issue quotas to hunt whales for the third year running. The government has just granted permission for 39 minke whales to be killed in the 2005 hunt. The Icelandic go ahead comes just 2 weeks after so-called 'scientific whaling' was condemned by the International Whaling Commission at its 2005 meeting in Ulsan, Korea.

Greenpeace International oceans campaigner John Frizell said: "Iceland's whaling programme provides no money, no useful science, and could seriously damage both the country's tourist industry and its international reputation. What's more, domestic public opinion increasingly supports whale watching rather than whale killing."

Like Japan, Iceland has been carrying out whaling under the guise of scientific research but the meat and blubber ends up being pushed to the commercial market. However, the market for whale meat and blubber in Iceland is small and is decreasing. Only a quarter of last year's catch was sold. Iceland' s freezers and storage are full with up to 40 tonnes of unsold whale meat and blubber from the 2003 and 2004 hunts.

The Icelandic Tourist Association and whale watching operators have made it clear that whaling damages the reputation of the nation and has a negative impact on tourism. In recent years, tourism has become a major source of income in Iceland; whale watching alone attracts around 82,000 tourists annually and is worth more than $18 million USD a year. (1)

"Whaling is just one of the threats from humanity facing whales today - they're also threatened by pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and the effects of climate change. Iceland should stop whaling now, and choose the sustainable path that also makes scientific and business sense; whale watching," said Frizell.

Iceland's 2003/2004 hunts took 61 minke whales in total instead of the original quota of 500, which included 200 fin and 100 sei whales. The reduced catch was the result of a combination of whalers being refused permission to export their catches, strong domestic criticism and a markedly reduced market for whale goods in Iceland.

For further information contact:
Gina Sanchez, Greenpeace International Communications on +31 627 000064

Notes to editors:
(1) In 2003, Greenpeace launched a pledge asking people to consider a holiday in Iceland if whaling was stopped. Over 67,000 people have taken the pledge so far - this represents $78.8million USD in tourism value as opposed to $4million from commercial whaling at its peak. The offer, presented by Greenpeace to the Icelandic government, clearly shows the economic and environmental gain of choosing sustainable tourism over whaling. Read more on http://www.icelandwhalespledge.com

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