The Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF) released a statement yesterday condemning the decision of outgoing Minister of Fisheries Einar K. Gudfinnsson for issuing a new quota on whaling.
SAF finds it unbelievable that such a decision was made by a minister who is about to leave his post and obviously did not discuss it with the outgoing cabinet first and definitely not with the prospective government.
Whale watching in Iceland. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
SAF states that the prospective coalition between the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement is strongly opposed to whaling and finds it highly likely that once that coalition will be in power it will annul the minister’s decision.
“Coverage of Iceland abroad has been very negative ever since the collapse of the country’s banking system [in October 2008] and recently exaggerated descriptions of riots in Iceland have been added to the global coverage, without Icelanders being able to defend their image,” the statement reads. “It will take much effort to rebuild Iceland’s image and extensive whaling will only make it more difficult.”
“Whaling, especially hunting of the great whales, raises considerable criticism in the countries we most often trade with and over the past years it has happened over and over again that consumers boycott Icelandic products and services because of the whaling that has taken place in Iceland in recent years,” the statement continues.
SAF claims that minke whaling has already damaged the whale watching industry to a significant extant and fewer and that fewer minke whales can be spotted in the areas reserved for whale watching boats.
Whale watching is the segment of tourism that has grown the most rapidly in the past years, creating jobs and generating profits for the national economy, SAF argues, and it is therefore absolutely clear that this decision will harm the development of this industry further and that the interests of a few is being prioritized above the interests of the many.
SAF urges the next government to revoke the whaling quota.
Click here to read more about the quota issued.