Sep 05 2012

Time to end Commercial Whaling!

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Time to end Commercial Whaling!

Given the recent interest in whales following the tragic outcome of their stranding in the Firth of Forth, with 19 dead pilot whales being washed up on the shore in Fife I am keen to learn more about these fascinating creatures and how we can save them.

Following my strong support for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW ) during the campaign to ban the trade in seal products in the, European Union (EU) I have been asked by IFAW to help in their campaign to end commercial whaling.

This summer IFAW’s 21 metre sailing research vessel Song of the Whale will be in Iceland, conducting research into the impact of whale watching on whales. Recent statements have suggested that whale watching has a detrimental impact on whales; indeed this was a hot topic in the Firth of Forth incident where pleasure boat owners were distressing the whales. IFAW believes these suggestions are based on limited evidence and the research to be undertaken is expected to refute these suggestions.

I am invited to join the crew of the Song of the Whale for a day as part to observe these fascinating creatures. The visit will allow me the opportunity to gain an insight into marine science and the functioning of a research vessel; it will also allow me to see whales at close hand, and of course I’m sure the crew would also appreciate my help!

The trip would allow me to discuss some of the key issues surrounding whaling in Iceland and around the world with stakeholders engaged in this issue. Given my involvement on the EU-Japan Trade negotiations, I hope the experience will provide you with arguments to highlight the fact that whale watching has been proven to be far more economically sustainable than whaling.

IFAW is working with local MPs in Iceland, whale watching companies and the Reykjavik Tourist Board to create a whale sanctuary in Faxafloi, the large bay surrounding the capital where whale watching but also whaling takes place.

This sanctuary would not prevent whaling vessels from going further out to sea to hunt whales but the extra fuel costs should mean whales are protected in practice.

I believe support from my fellow MEPs would be very welcomed by the locals in Iceland, given the importance of tourism to the country.

Unfortunately, 40% of all whale meat consumed in Iceland is eaten by tourists who mistakenly believe that all Icelanders eat whale and so wrongly consider their impact to be negligible. IFAW volunteers ask tourists in the airport and other popular destinations to pledge to not eat whale meat.

I will be making such a pledge not to eat whale meat and publicising that pledge throughout the European Parliament!

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