In the whaling countries, Norway, Japan and Iceland, whaling and whale watching exists side by side.
In Norway the whale watching industry is focused on sperm whales and killer whales and whale watching doesn’t happen near minke whale hunting grounds. In Japan as well, most whaling happens off shore, far away from coastal whale watching.
But in Iceland the killing of minke whales and the watching of minke whales occur in close proximity.
The Icelandic whale watching industry is unhappy and has commented:
“Whale watching in Iceland is being highly jeopardized, first by the resumption of the so-called “scientific” whaling in 2003 and now by the resumption of commercial whaling, announced and immediately performed in October 2006.
“161 minke whales have been caught for scientific purposes and their stomach contents analyzed to seek justification for the depleting fish stocks. However, at the last IWC meeting in June 2006, Iceland’s research was critized by the Scientific Commitee of the IWC for not being scientifically viable. The whales had been caught too close to shore, often within whale watching areas, and the study results are therefore insufficient.”
We have discussed here on Jennifer’s blog, what will happen with the Australian humpback whale watching industry, when Japan resumes humpback whaling this Austral summer for “scientific” reasons.
The whale watching industry is concerned the whales may become easier targets.
Comments from Australians include:
“Wally Franklin: The whales have become very used to these vessels and will come up to and roll over and present their underside and their belly to these vessels. Now are they going to do this, of course, to the Japanese harpooners in Antarctica?
That’s … we’re hoping they won’t.”
“Steve Dixon: Well if a season was added to the Hervey Bay calendar through whale watching and that industry suddenly becomes endangered, or the whales stop trusting the whale watchers, then it will have a severe economic impact on the whale city, because suddenly that fleet that goes out from July though to the end of September will suddenly find itself going out and looking at dolphins.”
So what will the impact of Japanese whaling be on the Australian humpback whaling industry?
My guess: The whale watchers may only experience the skittish animals that have been left – detracting from the whale watching adventure.