Iceland and Whaling By Dr Peter Corkeron—Part II

Culling whales as fishery management.

Iceland was one of the member nations of the International Whaling Commission

(IWC) that, in 2006, sponsored the

St Kitts & Nevis Declaration. Most of this

declaration refers to the sponsors’ perception of problems within the IWC, but it also

includes the statement:

“ACCEPTING that scientific research has shown that whales consume huge

quantities of fish making the issue a matter of food security for coastal nations and

requiring that the issue of management of whale stocks must be considered in a

broader context of ecosystem management since eco-system management has now

become an international standard.”

Nations engaged in marine mammal harvests (and their supporters) are

claiming that (a) marine mammal populations are negatively impacting the abundance

of commercial fish, and (b) culls of marine mammals, ostensibly to benefit fisheries,

are part of “ecosystem-based fishery management” (EBFM). The most strident of

these calls have come from

Japan, and Norway has officially recognized culls as part

of its

national policy on marine mammals since 2004. Japan even channelled money

through the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to fund a

“research” program in the Caribbean entitled “

The scientific basis for ecosystembased

management in the Lesser Antilles including interaction with marine mammals

and other top predators


A few recent examples from the Icelandic press demonstrate that this view –

burgeoning whale populations are eating too many of “our” fish – is held by members

of the fishing industry and politicians there as well:



On July 2nd 2007, the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LIU)

issued a

statement (in Icelandic) on the recent cod quota reductions in Iceland, and

calling for whaling not only to continue but to be increased. The statement claims

that “the large increase in whales has influenced stocks of capelin and cod…as

they take between one and two million tons of capelin and a considerable quantity

of cod.”


On July 3rd 2007, the Minke Whalers Association (Felag hrefnuveidarmanna)

website posted an article

entitled, ”Hrefnurnar eru smekkfullar af þorski og ýsu”

(Minkes smack-full of cod and haddock).


On July 10th, 2007 Stod 2/ Visir ran an interview with Einar K. Gudfinnsson,

the Icelandic Fisheries Minister, regarding the fact that when the new fish quotas

were issued, there were no whaling quotas given out. The interview refers to the

fact that the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LIU) had stated that

they believe that increased quotas should be given out for whales, due to the fact

that they are eating all of the fish,

and regardless of sales (my italics). Mr.

Gudfinnsson concurred with the concerns, although he did say that whaling in

Iceland will be based on whether or not the meat sells.

The idea that marine mammals must be culled to protect fisheries is not new. Such

calls have been made for decades, perhaps centuries. For example, when the

Norwegian spring-spawning herring (

Clupea harengus) population collapsed

completely in the late 1960s – a direct result of massive overfishing – the government

organized a hunt of killer whales (

Orcinus orca), that were known to eat herring. Over

700 whales were killed between 1969 and 1980 (Øien 1988). What is new is the


notion that culling marine mammals is a

primary component of effective fisheries

management that takes account of ecosystem interactions. How has this come about?

~ by narhvalur on November 16, 2011.

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