Protest against whaling: Boycott Icelandic tourism

24 October 2006

Protest against whaling: Boycott Icelandic tourism

SP Member of Parliament and environmental spokeswoman Krista van Velzen is calling for a tourist boycott of Iceland to force the country to put an end to its illegal whaling operations. “Commercial whaling is banned throughout the world and is much less profitable overall and specifically to Iceland than is tourism," Ms Van Velzen said. “This means that as ordinary citizens we have an effective means to bring pressure to bear to call a halt to the slaughter of these protected animals.”

“Why Iceland, which surely needs to prioritise income from tourism, is prepared to throw away its reputation in this way is a mystery. More than 300,000 people travel to the country every year, to watch whales as well as to enjoy the spectacular landscape. This adds €25m a year to the population's income, which stands in stark contrast to the €4m which might be earned by killing whales. The Icelandic government can surely see that sustainable tourism is where the real profit is to be found. As long as it fails to do so and act accordingly, we should boycott Icelandic tourism. I think that they would then quickly turn away from this misguided course.”

Last year Minister of Agriculture Cees Veerman lent his support to an attempt to lift the global ban and replace it with regulated whaling. By doing so, Van Velzen said, “he gave what in reality was a green light to whaling, which countries are now reacting to. The international community shouldn't be handing gifts to countries which want to hunt down endangered species, but should instead stand firm against them.”

Mr Veerman should, she argued, summon the Icelandic ambassador in order to make it clear that the resumption of whaling is completely unacceptable. Van Velzen also asked people to send a letter of protest to Icelandic fisheries minister Einar Kristinn Guöfinnsson, and to write to their own governments making their feelings clear and asking what action they intend to take.


Suggested text of letter to Icelandic minister, which can be sent to him at einarg@althingi.is :

Fisheries Minister Einar Kristinn Gudfinnsson
I am shocked by the news that your country has decided to resume whaling. Your argument that there is an urgent need to utilise all natural resources, including whales, can be countered by the fact that whales are being utilised already, in an alternative way. Whales have not been harmed for many years in Icelandic waters and are therefore no longer afraid of boats; watching them provides an unforgettable experience for the people.
It is imperative for your government to take whale-watching into consideration as an important economic factor when considering the whaling issue. The economic importance of whale watching is already almost as great as was the contribution of whaling during its peak 1950-1980.
At the present rate of growth, it is estimated that by 2008 the numbers of whale-watching tourists could exceed 100,000. It is crucial to increase its recognition by authorities and the public that whale watching is no longer jeopardized by senseless whaling activities.
I ask you immediately to stop whaling and to obey the international regulations against whaling. Until this action is taken, I will no longer visit your country as a tourist.
Yours sincerely,

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