Monday, August 5, 2013

Iceland Whalers Want to Hunt Humpbacks

Scientists and Whalers Push for Humpback Whaling
By Jonny Zwick

While covering Iceland’s commercial whaling industry over the last two months I have found myself thinking, “alright, this is completely unacceptable and terrible, but I guess it could be worse.”  I regret to inform you that it just got worse.  The nightmare that once was humpback whaling could potentially reemerge, according to a report today from Visir, a national newspaper in Iceland.

In the article (link below), Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, director of the minke whalers association, seems confident that humpbacks will be hunted again, and expresses his company’s desire to engage in such “fishing”.  But what’s scarier than a powerful whaler expressing his opinion about killing a species that humans once pushed to the brink of extinction?  A scientist supporting such criminal ideas…Sverir Daniel Halldorsson, is a whale expert at the Marine Research Institute in Iceland who said that it makes sense to hunt humpback whales for scientific purposes.  He believes it will help research the stock, and states that “humpback whales have increased in numbers.”  The complete conflict of interest is exemplified with a follow up from Gunnar, “the minke whalers have verified this when they went around the country and found that minke whales had diminished considerably in abundance and that humpback whales were in great abundance, especially in the north.”  Whalers who kill the animals the scientists are “trying to protect”, should never be speaking of whale populations with one another. 

I conducted an interview with two minke whalers 3 weeks ago, and brought up the topic of humpback whaling after they mentioned their desire to hunt bigger whales.  “You mean like humpbacks?  Would you want to hunt humpback whales?”  They heard a sense of shock in my follow up question and sort of scoffed, saying, “YES, why not humpback whales?”  My obvious call for sustainability earned me another couple of laughs and a feeling of utter hopelessness.

Loss of habitat, marine debris, the negative effects of active sonar, pollution and collisions with high speed vessels are threatening this species enough.  We cannot let the barbaric act of whaling get tacked on to this devastating list.

Follow Icelandic Whaling: @jonnyzwick