Icelandic Whalers Try to Lure Tourists Onto Whaling Boats, Showcasing Organs, Meat and Guns

Iceland whaling boat tries to offer tours

Iceland whaling boat tries to offer tours

Icelandic whalers are predictably defiant overjoining, which would probably require giving up whaling. But the latest gimmick to sell whaling to foreigners seems sure to backfire: a leading whaling company wants to bring tourists out on whaling boats.

“We are offering whale watching with whale hunters,” Gunnar Bergmann “Jónssonar” Jonsson told the publication Fréttablaðið. “We want to show people how whaling takes place without hunting the animals. We want to show the entire process, let people get to know us whalers, shoot from the guns and serve them whale meat.” As a special treat, they’ll show you whale organs in formaldehyde. It’s as if Jonsson thinks that it’s all some misunderstanding that people don’t like whaling; if only they could see the harpoons in person, then they’d like it.

So, you don’t get to harpoon any whales with Ishmael, but if you went on this anti-eco-tourism boat, you’d support people hunting the animal you want to see.  Why the ridiculous stunt? Well, their enormous new boat, the Hrafneydur (Raven Whale), can only hunt whales in a short season, so they were looking to make money the rest of the year. Their boat can fit 30-40 tourists–far more than the typical tiny Icelandic whale-watching vessel. Last year Ice News reported that there was no market in Japan for whale meat, either.

Jonsson tirelessly markets whale meat to young Icelanders, who are having none of it, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2008.  Since 2003, when Iceland re-started whaling, his company has quarreled with whale-watching tours and hunted whales in the area they frequent. Understandably, the whale watching community is not pleased. They already think the whalers scare off or kill the friendly whale. And they worry whales will grow to trust people on boats, only to be slaughtered.

By international agreement, any journalist covering the Icelandic whaling industry has to quote either Jonsson or Kristjan “millionaire whaling king” Loftsson saying something ridiculous.

“I am so over-confident that Iceland is not that stupid as to join the EU, that I’m not worried at all,”  the millionaire whaling king (and owner of the company Hvalur) told the BBC. Iceland and the EU are heading to a crisis over whaling, the BBC says. The process of joining takes about 18 months from here, with the most contentious issues front-loaded in the process.

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