Experiencing local or traditional food items may be a holiday highlight for many people, however OceanCare are urging tourists to refrain from purchasing whale meat when traveling abroad.

Despite an international ban, Iceland, Norway and Japan continue to kill whales commercially, killing around 1,500 between them. OceanCare want people to understand that these animals are meant to be subject to global protection and tourism demand is fueling the slaughter of these magnificent creatures.

Local demand for whale meat has diminished in all three whaling countries but polls in Iceland have shown that the industry here is primarily kept afloat by the curious taste buds of tourists.

The hunts  are considered cruel, unsustainable and unnecessary by conservation and animal welfare groups around the world and are regularly condemned by the international community and within meetings of the International Whaling Commission which agreed the ban on commercial whaling in 1982.

Whales are killed using explosive harpoon grenades and concerns are frequently raised that these methods are not reliable in achieving instant death and that whales suffer for prolonged periods of time.

In some places visitors may find whale meat to be widely available and not realize the implications of consuming it. Sometimes whale meat dishes are not clearly labeled, they may just be called ‘traditional dish’ or described only in the local language which can lead to unknowing consumption.

Tourists may also be unaware of the potential health implications of eating whale meat. As whales are top of the food chain, they accumulate large amounts of toxins in their bodies over their long lives which are linked to numerous health risks in people.

Whale hunts are also known to be damaging to whale watching industries as they may kill individual animals which are valuable to whale watching operators and result in others being afraid to approach boats. However a responsibly run whale watching industry is far more profitable to the local economy than whaling.

Fabienne McLellan, Director Public Relations of OceanCare says “The traditional significance of whales does not have to be experienced on a plate. All these countries have far better, safer and more humane experiences to offer tourists than whale meat. Tourists should avoid restaurants serving whale meat and instead take a responsibly run whale watching trip to experience these wonderful animals alive and in the wild.”