Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No Whale For Sale

54 restaurants and hotels across Iceland have joined a pro-whale watching effort and vowed not to sell whale meat.
The Icelandic Whale Watching Organisation and The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) are behind the effort, and restaurants and hotels involved are sporting a window sticker saying "Whale friendly".
37 of the 54 restaurants and hotels are in Reykjavik, the capital and largest city (population about 120,000 - over a third of Iceland's total). The rest are spread all over the country.
But do these restaurants even matter? After all, only 37 of the approx.250 Reykjavik eating places are participating...
Well, whale meat enthusiasts have requested the compilation of a list of restaurants that DO offer whale meat on their menus. Such a list might be available at some point, but at least for now it's very obvious which restaurants do NOT serve whale meat. Some cynics have pointed out that many of those participating restaurants didn't offer whale in the first place, and were not likely to serve it in the future anyway. However the list is a positive start, and will hopefully prove a selling point for the supporting restauranteurs.
Meanwhile Kristjan Loftsson (Iceland's lone, and some say maverick, whaler) continues his Ahab-like pursuit of whales with his handful of 1940's steam-driven whaling boats. To mid-August 2013, he had killed 89 fin whales.
The Icelandic Tourism Association (SAF) is deeply critical of his activities. SAF agrees with the Icelandic whalewatchers' association (Icewhale) that killing whales is not only bad for whalewatchers but for the tourism industry as a whole. More and more, Loftsson's activities are seen as harmful to Iceland's image and economic interests, and furthermore are cruel and unnecessary. Even the shareholders in his company are beginning to publicly call for this loss-making whaling enterprise to stop (last month, a whalemeat shipment to Japan was blocked by Germany, and returned to Iceland. The Icelandic shipping company Samskip announced it would not be involved in further exports of fin whale meat.).
Loftsson is being seen as an out-of-date diehard, determined to use his wealth to kill whales that are increasingly difficult to sell.

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