Would you eat Shamu? The ethics of sampling whale in Iceland – USATODAY.com
Like many travelers, I’m convinced that one of the best ways to explore a local culture is through its traditional foods. And in Iceland, that ethos can translate to some controversial choices – including my $15 minke whale appetizer at Reykjavik‘s Grill Market restaurant.
Thinly sliced, dark red and delicious, the fork-tender steak tasted like a sweet if gamey version of filet mignon. But consumption of whale meat, on the rise here since Iceland resumed limited hunting when a 20-year moratorium ended in 2006, continues to generate an emotional debate that shows no sign of ebbing.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare opposes all whaling – including that of the minke, which is not considered an endangered species – because it claims “there is no humane way to kill a whale.” Launched in Iceland this summer, the group’s “Meet Us Don’t Eat Us” campaign estimates that up to 40% of local whale meat is sold to visitors, and encourages them to book whale watching trips in lieu of nibbling “Moby Dick on a Stick.”
In September, President Obama initiated potential diplomatic sanctions against Iceland for its commercial whaling, including possible limits on cabinet-level visits to the country. And last month, Iceland’s international airport stopped selling minke whale meat to departing tourists after anti-whaling activists pointed out that importation of all whale products is illegal in the European Union, United States and other countries under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species CITES.
Not surprisingly, Iceland’s President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson sees things differently.
Strange Random Whale Quote:
“The species of whale known as the black right whale has four kilos of brains and 1,000 kilos of testicles. If it thinks at all, we know what it is thinking about. – Jon Lien, “Whale Professor” at St. John’s University, Newfoundland, speaking to the Norwegian Telegram Agency (spring 1995).
- Whale meat withdrawn from sale at Iceland airport (guardian.co.uk)
- Illegal Trade in Whale Meat from Iceland’s International Airport Exposed (prnewswire.com)
- Obama Moves to Stop Iceland Whaling. Could He Do More? (ecocentric.blogs.time.com)
- Dot Earth Blog: Obama Presses Iceland Over Fin Whale Hunt (dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Iceland (ebookers.com)
- Victory! The U.S. Takes Action Against Icelandic Whaling (victoriesfortheanimals.wordpress.com)
- Obama Warns Iceland on Whaling Activity (green.blogs.nytimes.com)