A new advertising campaign is encouraging adventurous visitors to Iceland not to taste whale meat. According to the campaign, whale is not a traditional Icelandic food, as tourists usually believe; and even a small taste does a lot of harm.
The campaign is organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Icelandic Association of Whale Watching Companies.
According to organisers, the fact that 40 percent of visitors to Iceland decide to try whale meat is strange, as most of them would probably consider themselves anti-whaling when in their homelands.
Volunteers are standing around in central Reykjavik dressed as whales, distributing anti-whaling leaflets to tourists. Few restaurants in the city used to serve whale, but many of them do now — apparently in response to demand from tourists.
At the same time whale watching tours have never been more popular and the Association of Whale Watching Companies has been fighting against whale hunting for years, saying it is detrimental to their own, far more profitable, business.
Sigursteinn Masson is an IFAW spokesman in Iceland. He says that the International Fund fights all whaling everywhere in the world, even in places like Iceland where hunting is heavily controlled so it does not threaten whale populations. There is simply no humane way to kill a whale, IFAW argues.
Masson told RUV that according to new figures from Gallup, only five percent of Icelanders regularly eat whale meat. This means whale is a long way from being the staple foodstuff many tourists believe it to be. Masson believes that if more tourists knew this, fewer of them would go out of their way to taste it. Eating like the locals is, after all, one of the great pleasures of travelling.
(Homepage photo: Olafur Kr. Olafsson, taken in Greenland)