Monday, July 10, 2006

It should be up to the local people, is all I'm saying

An editorial in today's Globe and Mail offers a modest proposal, in the matter of Lofoten whaling:

A whale for a tale

Visitors who pause to admire, say, the reindeer in a facsimile of Santa's workshop might be distressed to hear a loud bang and, on reaching the exit, be invited to purchase venison sandwiches. Similarly, 80 tourists who sailed to Norway's Lofoten Islands this month on the trawler Reine, to see minke whales in their element, watched inhorror as a Norwegian whaling ship har-pooned a minke right before their eyes.

Ah, competing interests. In his recent book
Waiting for the Macaws, Terry Glavin wrote that if Norway discontinued its commercial hunting of the minke, the culture of the Lofoten Island whalers would wither. "Eventually, the old stories would die." A modest proposal, then: The Norwegians end their hunt, the tourists pay good money to stop off on the islands and hear residents young and old retell stories of hunts gone by, and then the tourists board their trawler to see real, live whales cavorting in the ocean, as they should be.

Anyone who knows anything about minke whales would be forgiven for stifling a chuckle about that last line about tourists watching real, live whales cavorting in the ocean. Minke whales don't cavort, and whale-watching tourists who visit the Lofotens don't come to see minke whales. They come for the killer whales, which do cavort, and gambol, and the local minke whalers wouldn't have it any other way. I well remember Ulf Ellingson, manager of the tiny whale processing plant on the island of Skrova, talking about how beautiful killer whales are, and how it would be unspeakably savage to kill a killer whale.

Apart from the absence of necessary context, the Globe editorial is being perfectly reasonable about the matter of "conflicting interests." But do we really want to turn the locals into mere tourist attractions?

More apostacy on the subject, for background, here. More about pushing around the locals here, and here is a case where the locals would rather prefer a more tourist-based economy.


Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

wow,just read your article in the Van Review,"Cetacean Fetishism"
well written.
The is one aspect of Green Peace that troubled me,was their stand on Indigenous peoples and their often confrontational approach to many communities.Instead they should have been talking with the locals,to understand their side.To many people and orgs (though well meaning),forget to just listen.Like the saying goes "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"

1:33 PM  
Blogger tglavin said...

Thanks for your kind comments. Dirk. Believe me, few comments are, on this subject.

And I actually quite like Greenpeace, in spite of everything, too.



3:44 PM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

Agree.I have always supported Green Peace.But not uncritically,but overall I believe they have been a positive force.And,they do seem to have learned from past mistakes in dealing with FN's and local communities.Overall they have done invaluable work in drawing attention to the environment.

6:13 PM  

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