Sometimes people say the strangest things…the International Whaling Commission meeting yesterday rejected Greenland’s request to hunt 10 humpback whales. The IWC judged the hunt not essential for Greenland’s indigenous population and too commercial to qualify as subsistence whaling. At least 25% of the meat ends up in supermarkets, according to a recent report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Denmark, of which Greenland is an autonomous territory, dissented, as did Japan, South Korea and perhaps surprisingly, the U.S. But amid the angry words, one response left me, well, without words. It was this, from Daven Joseph of the St Kitts and Nevis delegation: “At a time when the world is witnessing food shortages, we are seeing a small group of countries that are purporting to be world leaders depriving marginal peoples of the right to eat.”
As if…an infusion of whaling and whale meat could solve the global food crisis (which is nothing to joke about). Why not an infusion to Greenland of tofu, lentils or even Boca burgers? I was lucky enough to visit Greenland several years ago. It’s a remarkable place: beautiful, austere, enveloping. The population is about 26,000 and compared to Denmark, Greenland is quite poor. But its people are not facing a food crisis. There are supermarkets. And subsistence hunting of seals and yes, whales: minkes. Speaking of whales, when I was there, my colleagues and I went on a boat trip with Greenlanders. Two boats. Mine saw a seal — not unexciting. But the other group saw a humpback and came back ecstatic. Ever since I’ve regretted not being on that boat.