2010 09 22- Greenland crab fisherman kills humpback whale Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 08:31

Humpback Whale Killed In Greenland

"Greenland ’s Ministry of Fisheries has announced that it will allow a hunt of nine humpback whales to start immediately, despite the fact that this decision violates International Whaling Commission (IWC) regulations clearly specifying that this quota of humpbacks cannot legally come into effect until mid-October.
Greenland Radio reports that a crab fisherman from Paamiut hunted a humpback whale on 31 August, an act that potentially violates International Whaling Commission (IWC) regulations and which marks a return to humpback hunts in Greenland for the first time in decades.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC), which regulates commercial and subsistence hunting of large whales, banned all hunting of humpback whales in 1986.  Since then, Greenland has been allowed to take additional fin whales under an Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) quota intended to meet the subsistence and cultural needs of remote Inuit communities.


However, after three previously failed attempts to convince the Commission of a need for more whale meat, Greenland finally obtained approval from the IWC last June to start a hunt of nine humpback whales a year. But, despite acknowledging in a letter to the Commission that to begin the hunt before the mid-October deadline would be a violation of IWC regulations, it seems that the Greenland’s government has given way to hunters who want to start the killing much sooner in order to increase the chances of taking these whales before they ‘escape’ by migrating to the warm waters of the Caribbean to breed in the winter.

WDCS opposed the allocation of this humpback quota, including on the grounds that Greenland has not properly demonstrated its need for more whale meat and that its subsistence whaling does not conform to IWC rules. WDCS has also uncovered the fact that large amounts of whale meat from Greenland’s ‘subsistence’ quota, including whole whales, are sold through commercial processing companies to supermarkets all over Greenland, where the meat is available to non-Greenlanders, including tourists. Whale meat is also available in tourist hotels and restaurants.


 Sue Fisher, Whaling Programme leader for WDCS questions Greenland’s motives for seeking a humpback quota: “In the horse-trading at the IWC meeting, Greenland actually gave up more whale meat than it gained with this humpback quota. We question whether Greenland sought a humpback quota to meet genuine subsistence needs or because this new species will be more commercial valuable than the species it currently hunts”.

Greenland’s growing tourism sector and the wider economy reliant on it could be damaged by a humpback whale hunt. Humpback whale-watching is growing in popularity and value in Greenland and several operators and tourism officials have spoken out against the hunt, fearing for local livelihoods.  

Under the IWC’s ’90 day rule’, a new quota does not legally come into effect for 90 days. The IWC has not officially waived the rule in this case, which prohibits Greenland’s humpback hunt commencing before mid-October.  WDCS is examining the legality of the hunt, both under IWC and domestic hunting rules.

Greenland obtained approval from the IWC last June to start a hunt of nine humpback whales a year but, despite acknowledging in a letter to the Commission that to begin the hunt before the mid-October deadline would be a violation of IWC regulations, it seems that the Greenland’s government has given way to hunters who want to start the killing much sooner.

  

“Any whales taken before the October 13th deadline would be an infraction of IWC rules”, says Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society’s anti-whaling campaigner, Sue Fisher . “The reason why the hunters wish to start hunting sooner, and why Greenland has written to the IWC seeking its understanding, is that humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of the Caribbean to breed in the winter and if the hunt can not start now, the opportunity to take the whales may be missed.”

 

The northwestern Greenland administrative region of Qaasuitsup, which includes the major whaling town of Ilulissat , was allocated two of the nine whales. Last week it used a lottery system to select who can hunt the charismatic humpbacks. The winning hunters, two boats from Ilulissat, and one each from Aasiaat and Kangaatsiaq, can take their whales from 13 August until the end of December.

 

Greenland first sought a quota of humpback whales in 2007, arguing that its existing quota of fin and minke whales was inadequate to meet its subsistence needs. For three consecutive years, Greenland’s proposal failed, amid concerns about high levels of commercialization of whale meat intended to meet subsistence needs, and the government’s refusal to document who actually needs to eat whale meat for subsistence in Greenland .

 

This will be the first humpback hunt in Greenlandic waters since 1986, after the quota was finally awarded in June in a controversial compromise in which Greenland gave up part of its fin and minke whale quota that it never used anyway."

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

 
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