How does Greenland justify killing whales?
Greenlandic whalers hunt with a quota given by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) for ‘Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling’ (ASW).
ASW is supposed to meet Greenlanders' nutritional and cultural ‘need’. But the lines between commercial and ASW hunting are being blurred with the meat being sold to tourists.
In 2018, Greenland killed a total of 131 large whales: 118 minke whales, 7 fin whales and 6 humpbacks.
Whaling in Greenland - facts
- Greenland’s whalers claim they hunt for cultural and nutritional needs – but WDC has proved the meat is also being sold to tourists.
- Whale meat from the hunts has been sold, illegally, in Denmark.
- The Greenlandic government has repeatedly asked for a bigger quota of whales to kill, despite the fact that not even all whales from the quota are currently taken.
Greenland is targeting tourists to buy whale meat. This contravenes the IWC rules and cannot be justified as ‘subsistence’ whaling.
Official marketing for visitors to Greenland actively promotes whale meat as a local delicacy.
Results of WDC’s investigation
Investigations by WDC in 2014 uncovered meat from four species - minke, fin, narwhal, and the most widespread, humpback whale - on sale to both local Inuit and to tourists.
Blue whales, sei and sperm whales featured in a lexicon of whale species (in English, as well as Kalaallisut and Danish) displayed above the chill cabinets in the braettet (fish market) on the capital’s main street.
Promotional material written in English targeted tourists with offers of blue, sei and sperm whales, all of which are protected species.
On the official 'Taste of Greenland' website it reads:
‘…a new generation of creative chefs have in recent years started working with contemporary gastronomic interpretations of meat from marine mammals. How would you like a whale burger with angelica dressing? Or an ice-cold whale carpaccio of fillet and mattak, garnished with thyme sorbet and crowberries?’
In Ilulissat (population c.4,500) we found:
- The Braettet (fish market) had freshly killed minke whale (with pectoral fin) on sale, again, also available to tourists.
- Humpback whale meat on sale at the Pisiffik supermarket, again freely available to tourists.
- Café Inuit had whale meat on the menu.
- Café Hong Kong (takeaway) offered a whale curry.
- The World of Greenland Visitor Centre offered narwhal, beluga, orca and other whale artifacts.
- Ice Cap Tours (offering boat trips and other tourist excursions) offered a similar range of whale artifacts.
In Tasiilaq - the largest settlement on the East coast, population c. 2,000, we found:
- Humpback whale meat (Pukkelhval) and minke whale meat and blubber on sale in Pilersuisoq, a large, modern, well-stocked supermarket, where it is also available to tourists.
- Narwhal jewellery and orca tooth necklace on sale in various outlets, but no obvious mention anywhere of export requirements under Convention in Trade in Endangered Species.
This investigation was made possible by the support of the SEA LIFE Trust.
Greenland is an amazing and beautiful country to visit. Tourists are targeted with whale meat and other products. Please don't support this industry. We have produced a list of items you might see on menus in restaurants and other products derived from whales.
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