Honestly, I was impressed by how respectful of the environment Iceland was. Everywhere (even in the airport), you could find recycling bins, with at least 7 different ways of recycling. There were signs and reminders everywhere to not step out of the trail or hurt the landscape in any way. Plus, they have all that energy and hot water that lets you take long showers without feeling guilty!
But there is one huge, dark, spot on that beautiful picture, and that’s the whale business.
Indeed, it seems that one of the “must have” experience in Iceland is to eat whale meat. But let me give you two simple facts right now about that “experience”:
1 – The fin whale, the second largest mammal in the world that you’re eating in restaurants, is an endangered species.
2 – Whale meat is not a traditional dish for Icelanders! Most of them still never buy any. They started fishing it to export it to Japan and to feed it to … tourists. So much for the local experience.
In 1982, the nations of the world agreed on a moratorium on whaling to try to save this magnificent species on the brink of extinction. Today, three countries still act openly against that moratorium : Japan, Norway and Iceland.
By eating whale meat, even minke whales that are less endangered than fin whales, you support their defying of the law. Don’t forget that 40% of whale meat is fed to tourists in Iceland, so think about how it would hurt the whaling business if these customers disappeared!
In short : to stop this cruel form of hunting and protect the species, there’s one simple thing to do. Don’t eat the whales in Iceland.
IF WHALES DISAPPEARED
If you’re a bit cynical, you might be thinking just now : “Yeah, but the world won’t end if whales are extinct”. The world won’t end, you’re right, but whales still play a very important part.
First, they’re one of the biggest predators of the sea, which means they regulate the flow of food and make sure that not one species of fish overpopulate the ocean. The ecosystem balance would be seriously upset if such an important player on the food chain was taken out.
They also play an important role in offsetting carbon in the atmosphere because of their … poop! Indeed, their poop stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, which are in turn extracting carbon from the atmosphere, and also feeding a lot of sea animals. Estimations say that 400 000 tonnes of carbon are extracted because of whales each year, and god knows we need every help we can get with that!
Finally, think about what else you want to do in Iceland. How about – let’s think- whale watching?
ABOUT WHALE WATCHING
It’s the other side of the whale business, but I hope I’m not the only one to see how contradictory this is. Whale watching is quickly going to become a tricky business if there’s no more whales in the sea, right?
Although whale watching is 500% preferable to killing and eating those beautiful animals, caution is still needed. It was shown that the activity is very much disturbing to the whales and preventing them from eating and reproducing as they usually do.
To correct that, guidelines for tour companies were created. Of course, creating guidelines is a far cry from actually putting them into action, so I recommend you research the tour company before booking. In Iceland, the Elding company is clearly above the others in this area, and although I did not went whale watching myself, I still feel that I can recommend them because of their engagement for the environment and their success rate in actually seeing whales.
Look how beautiful they are, please, pretty please, don’t eat them.