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"Don't go to Iceland - They Kill Whales"

Philip Mansbridge, CEO of Care for the Wild International, wrote today on huffingtonpost.co.uk that tourists should boycott Iceland in protest of whaling.

He wrote for example:

It turns out that after a two year voluntary ban, Iceland has resumed commercial whaling - against international opinion and against the mandates of the International Whaling Commission, which Iceland doesn't recognise.

It's fair to say that this announcement hasn't gone un-noticed. Greenpeace have gone undercover, IFAW have spoken out against it and more than one million people around the world last year signed a petition against the country resuming their whale killing.

However, what is intriguing about this tale is that it all stems to just one man - Icelandic Whaler Kristjen Loftsson. One man against a million voices and against the 180 fin whales he and his team intend to slaughter this year. Well, one man and a government hell bent on destroying their reputation and tourist industry against a background of global anger and discontent.

Tourism is important to Iceland. It's a small country whose financial issues sent shock waves around the world not so long ago. In fact, tourism is somewhat of a cash cow for Iceland, and tourists in the UK in particular make a massive contribution to total figures. Last year alone, almost 100,000 tourists from the UK headed to Iceland, representing a staggering 47.7% increase versus the year before, and setting a new record high.

Why did they come? Many no doubt went to enjoy the country's unique nature and the magnificence of the whales. It's been hard to ignore the country's massive poster campaign, littering stations across the London Underground network, or the Icelandic government's 'Visit Iceland' website, which proudly proclaims that Iceland is one of the Top 10 places in the world to watch whales (endangered, by the way) in the wild.

With tourism accounting for 5.9% of GDP (2009 figures - now likely to be higher), and tourism related trades employing around 5% of the country (compared incidentally to the fishing industry at almost the same), is this the Icelandic Government's most foolish decision to date? Probably.

So the question we need to ask is this: A petition didn't work, global outrage doesn't seem to be working, even undercover filming showing magnificent whales being harpooned and chopped up on deck hasn't had the desired effect... so, what will?

For me it is simple - tourism is worth lots of money to Iceland, commercial whaling is uneconomic and inhumane, and this to all intents and purposes is an easy operation to close down. The tourist industry of Iceland has itself already come out to say whales are worth more alive than dead. Tourists need to say no, they need to vote with their feet (which fortunately tend to be not too far from their purses or wallets) and not book a trip to Iceland until the licenses are revoked.

 

So far 11 fin whales have been caught during the first whaling week of the season. The quote however allows for 180 whales to be hunted.

 

Read the full story here!

 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 14:47

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