It is unclear whether the University of Iceland’s Institute of Economic Studies consulted whale watching operators while researching a controversial report on whaling’s economic impact, RÚV reports. “It’s actually stated in the report that whale watching companies were contacted but we still haven’t found the party in question,” stated Aðalsteinn Svan Hjelm, marketing manager at the country’s oldest whale watching company in Hauganes, North Iceland. The report, commissioned by the Ministry of Industry and Innovation and intended to study the economic impact of whaling in Iceland, has received widespread criticism.
Aðalsteinn says the whale watching industry called for a comprehensive report on the impact of whaling last year, but the report that was conducted does not appear to answer that demand. “We don’t see that in this report as a point of departure, rather maybe that it’s justifying hunting whales irrespective of the rest of us,” he remarked.
Aðalsteinn says that despite having spoken to many of the largest companies in the business, none report having been called or interviewed in connection with the report. “And still the report implies right in the introduction that all parties were consulted,” Aðalsteinn observed. “And then of course neither the Icelandic Travel Industry Association nor Ice Whale (the Icelandic whale watching association) were contacted.”
Rannveig Grétarsdóttir, CEO of whale watching company Elding and chair of Ice Whale, leveled similar critiques last week during a TV interview. “It’s very strange,” she said. “I have 40% of the whale watching in the country and am the chair of Ice Whale, and no one talked to me.”