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Stop Non-Subsistence Whaling in Greenland!

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Greenland Given Go Ahead to Hunt Humpback Whales

At this year's June meeting of the 88-member nation International Whaling Commission (IWC), Greenland's indigenous people were given the right to hunt 27 humpback whales over a three-year period beginning September 2010. The self-governing territory will be able to kill and consume 9 humpbacks yearly through 2012.

Other annual Greenland quotas are: 178 minke whales, 10 fin whales, and 2 bowhead whales for the period 2010-2012 to be taken in West Greenland, and a quota of 12 minke whales in East Greenland.

Greenland's Minister of Fisheries, Ane Hansen, noted that IWC scientists had determined that harvesting 10 whales every year for 10 years would not adversely affect humpback whale populations.

A 1986 ban on commercial whaling only allows "aboriginal subsistence whaling" so that native peoples can meet nutritional and cultural needs. Indigenous whaling was also granted to the Russian Far East and Alaska.  Until now, only St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean were given an allotment to kill four humpbacks each year.

A report by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society of the U.K. has revealed how quotas that allow indigenous people to carry on whaling are abused by Greenland. Indigenous communities, including the Inuit of Greenland, may not have access to whale meat to meet longstanding cultural and nutritional subsistence needs. Supermarket chains in the towns and cities confirm the high price brought by whale meat and mattak (raw outer layer of fat and inner layer of skin on a whale).

When stocks run low, sellers seek certain whalers to obtain whale meat and mattak. A food company director reported that they sell whale meat faster than they can obtain whales.

Whale meat planned for the needs of isolated Inuit populations also ends up at 4-star hotel restaurants, a fact that one of the whalers in Ilulissat acknowledged. Whale steak is listed openly on hotel menus at prices equivalent to other luxury dinners. Cruise liners make Ilulissat their destination during summer months, as do many daily flights.

The WDCS investigation to uncover Greenland's tactics illustrates the current deficiencies in IWC monitoring. Whales should not be killed to provide high incomes to grocers and wholesalers. The issue of abuses of subsistence quotas and the fact that countries are able to use loopholes to carry on whaling highlight the need for reform in the IWC.

In response to an email to Ms. Hansen, you will probably receive the following form letter:  

Below are some of the comments made by Ms Hansen at the IWC meeting.

● They (Greenland) are keeping possible CO2 emissions in check by utilizing whale meat and limiting the import of western food. By a higher level of utilization and increased manufacturing of our own resources, we will also reduce and limit modern life style deceases (sic) that are occurring more often in Greenland.
● The increasing numbers of whales and seals in our seas are the biggest competitors to our fishermen and hunters.
● Whaling in Greenland is strictly regulated by national legislations. Only professional hunters with approved hunting gear, and whaling vessels can receive a license for hunting of large whales. Also for the humpback whaling, cannons with harpoon grenades are used. The grenades are set to detonate a 45 g explosive penthrite charge 140 cm within the animal. This ensures a rapid and humane death of the whale. The grenade is very costly - 1200 to 1300 English pounds pr. grenade - so money is a necessity, that is - if animal welfare considerations should be taken into account.

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