Following revelations by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) of the wide-spread commercial sale of whale meat in Greenland to tourists, concerned International Whaling Commission (IWC) Members States reacted today by refusing to grant Greenland any increase in its hunt of large whales for so-called aboriginal subsistence needs. Indeed, in a procedural failure, Denmark failed to get any quota approved at all.
Greenland (a Danish overseas territory) was seeking to increase the number of endangered fin and humpback whales it kills for the subsistence needs of its native people for the next six years, but the undercover operation conducted by WDCS exposed how Greenland has been actively undermining the IWC’s ban on commercial whaling by openly selling whale meat in the vast majority of its restaurants and also in supermarkets.
The EU offered to amend Denmark’s proposal, but Denmark refused, demanding that its original proposal was voted on.
The IWC vote was 25 in favour, and 34 against, 3 abstained.
Criticism of Greenland was led by the Latin block of countries who pointed out their was little difference between what Greenland was doing in feeding whales to tourists and that practiced by commercial whaling operations.
Claims by Denmark on behalf of Greenland that they would not stop selling whale meat to tourists and that Greenland’s whalers could use baseball bats to kill whales if they wanted to, did little to endear Greenland to the rest of the IWC.
The European Union struggled to come to a position due to ongoing confusion over its internal decision making processes. WDCS worked extensively with the EU Commission to give guidance to the EU Member States and eventually, EU Members who shared WDCS’s concern that Greenland’s whaling as not in fact properly regulated aboriginal subsistence whaling, forced an internal vote on the Danish proposal.
The EU tried to amend the proposal from the floor, but their offer was rejected by Denmark.
WDCS CEO, Chris Butler-Stroud stated: “The EU finally sent its own signal to Denmark that it needs to clean up the mess that is Greenlandic whaling, and that commercial sales to non-aboriginal peoples will not be tolerated.”
In response to the revelations of these ASW abuses in Greenland, several European tour operators to Greenland have responded by pledging to WDCS and the Animal Welfare Institute that they will not promote whale meat consumption to their customers (1)
Blurring the lines – An open invitation to South Korea
WDCS has been warning for some time that the ongoing blurring of the lines between ASW and commercial whaling was causing confusion at the IWC.
South Korea had taken advantage out the double standards of the IWC in granting St Vincent an ‘ASW’ quota despite commercial sales being highlighted and noted that its fishermen have abided by the 1982 ban on whaling.
Butler-Stroud said, “Whether South Korea’s threat to resume commercial whaling through the loophole of so-called ‘scientific whaling’ will come to fruition remains to be seen, but the IWC stance on Greenland may well give it pause for thought.”
Butler-Stroud concluded: “The IWC now needs to clean up its act. It needs to stop pretending that it will tolerate commercial whaling in any form and get on with saving whales, and not the few remaining subsidized elements of industrial whaling in a few rich countries.”