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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Rune Frovik in MSNBC

Rune Frøvik of the High North Alliance is in an interview with Newsweek at the MSNBC, explaining Iceland's commercial whaling resumption. The original is full of advertising junk, so you may prefer to read the full interview is reproduced here for posterity:
NEWSWEEK: Your critics have condemned Iceland’s resumption of commercial whaling as cruel and unnecessary.
Rune Frovik: The whalers are using very efficient hunting methods. The animals are dispatched with a grenade and die without suffering. About 80 per cent of the minke whales killed [for scientific purposes] in Norway die instantaneously.

But is it necessary?
This is an environmentally friendly way of providing food and it provides people with a living. You could just as well say there is no necessity for chicken or fish. We could live very well without either of them. People are entitled to be emotional; compassion is good. But you can’t hide the fact that whales belong to the animal kingdom, and as long as most people are prepared to eat other animals then we can’t see a big difference between eating whales and eating beef.

On the other hand, surveys suggest that there is now really very little demand for whale meat.
My understanding is that the whale meat that reached the Icelandic market was actually sold, so there must be some demand. Of course, there may sometimes be large stockpiles in the freezers, but that is because you have to supply the market through the year. But as Iceland increases its whaling they will look overseas, and export to Japan.

How can you justify killing the fin whale when it’s officially classified an endangered species?
The Icelandic population of fin whales is actually superabundant. International scientists agree on a total of around 25,000. That may actually be close to pre-exploitation levels centuries ago. It’s just wrong to say that it’s vulnerable or threatened with extinction. Iceland is capable of taking care of its natural resources when many other countries are not, as it has shown with [the preservation] of its cod stocks. The endangered status applies to the species as a whole and dates back to when there was heavy exploitation in the Southern Hemisphere, where the population was seriously depleted. But these are separate stocks which don’t mix. It’s like saying that the Chinese people are endangered because there are only a few in Iceland.

If that’s so, why were the fin whales ever listed as endangered?
It’s basically political. It makes a good sound bite—and a lot of journalists have swallowed that. The public has been misled. It doesn’t make sense to talk about a species being endangered rather than distinct populations.

If whaling continues, won’t Iceland’s image suffer, in particular, its tourism trade. Thousands of visitors now go Iceland just for whale watching.
People said the same after Iceland resumed scientific whaling in 2003. It didn’t happen. In fact the number of tourists increased. The same is true of Norway [after it also reintroduced scientific whaling]. We are living almost at the top of the world, close to the North Pole, and people will understand that this is how we make a living. We are seafaring people who harvest the bounty of the sea.

The whaling industry is small. Why does the issue generate such passion?
We consider this as an attack on our identity and our way of life. If we are told we are not allowed to use what is an abundant natural resource what will it be next?
Thumbs up to Rune.

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