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Greenpeace condemns Icelandic whaling

Greenpeace condemns Icelandic whaling

Auckland-18 October 2006 -- The decision by Iceland to grant a commercial license to hunt whales makes no economic sense and should be revoked immediately, Greenpeace said today.

"Iceland has no market for whale meat, but they do have a huge and far more valuable market for whale watching, " said Greenpeace whales campaigner Jo McVeagh.

The decision is the result of a campaign by one man, Kristjan Loftsson, a former whaler, who has collected 250 million ISK in shares for renovating his whaling station in Hvalfjordur.

"Instead of investing in a one-man campaign to rejuvenate an outdated, unnecessary industry, that can only damage the reputation of the country internationally, Iceland should be capitalising on the value of a growing industry of watching and studying whales," said McVeagh.

She said that Iceland's claims that the hunt is sustainable has no credibility, since nine of the 39 whales that are to be targeted are endangered Fin whales.

Greenpeace called on the New Zealand Government to bring renewed pressure on Iceland and to protest the whaling.

Jo McVeagh said Mr. Loftsson's shareholders are likely to be bitterly disappointed. Not only do Icelanders widely oppose his whaling, it is also very unprofitable due to disappearing markets for whale meat.

Consider the facts: In Iceland only 1.1% of the population eat whale meat once a week and 82% of 16 to 24 year olds have never eaten it (1). So called 'scientific' catches, of about 40 minkes a year, have flooded the market in Iceland. The fin whales Mr Loftsson hopes to kill are almost ten times as big as minkes.

In Norway the Raw Fish Marketing Board closed the whale hunt in August, 2006, before it had reached half its quota, because they had enough whale meat to supply the demand in Norway for the year. And in Japan, thousands of tonnes of whale meat is stockpiling.

Greenpeace will continue to work with those communities in Iceland who oppose whaling, particularly people in the tourism industry who recognise that this is bad for Iceland's international reputation. Greenpeace has tens of thousands of names of people who would visit Iceland as tourists if whaling were to end, and would be glad to hand them over when whaling stops.

ENDS

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