WDCS and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) have issued a joint open letter to travel operators and cruise ship companies taking passengers to Greenland requesting that they refrain from promoting the consumption of whale meat and products to travellers visiting the country.
WDCS recently released evidence from and undercover operation revealing that whales killed for supposed ‘desperate local needs’ in Greenland are being served to tourists.
The letter asks operators to warn customers that they risk fines and possible prison sentences if purchasing whale or dolphin products for introduction to the USA or Europe, and also reminds operators that encouraging tourists to consume whale meat meant for local native people in Greenland undermines the current global ban on commercial whaling, and is potentially helping to facilitate the formal resumption of global commercial whaling.
The undercover investigation and letter come on the eve of the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (the international body that regulates whaling) in Panama (July 2-6). Incredibly, this year, the Danish government (Greenland is an overseas territory of Denmark) is seeking higher quotas of whales it can kill from the IWC, which will then feed this growing market supplying whale meat to unwitting tourists.
Earlier this week an undercover investigation by WDCS revealed that Greenland had been ignoring the ban on commercial whaling by selling whale meat, from whales it is allowed to kill solely for the nutritional needs of local aboriginal people, to tourists visiting the country.
WDCS investigators visiting Greenland documented restaurants and hotels deliberately targeting tourists by placing bowhead and other whale meat on their menus. The investigations also revealed supermarkets openly selling endangered fin whale and other whale meats, all freely available for visitors to the country to buy.
However, the IWC requires that subsistence whaling should be for the ‘purposes of local aboriginal consumption’, not for the type of commercial sale that the investigation by WDCS has revealed.
At the IWC meeting, Denmark will argue that they want to take almost double the number of endangered fin whales (10 to 19) and increase the number of humpbacks they kill without a review for at least six years.
WDCS CEO, Chris Butler-Stroud said: “The Danish government’s claims that Greenland needs to kill more whales for nutritional and cultural needs is laughable.
“Who is this meat really for? Our investigation report shows that this demand for more whale meat is clearly driven by the commercial consumer market not by aboriginal needs and we ask tour operator taking customers to Greenland not to encourage them to eat this meat in local restaurants or hotels.”
Letter to Tour Operators (pdf)