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A Whale of an Auction
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In an effort to raise public awareness of Iceland's recent return to commercial whaling after a 20-year hiatus, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), an international wildlife conservation group, is using the online auction site eBay to sell off "shares� of a fin whale to prevent it from being killed. WSPA hopes to raise US$180,000, the full market value of the whale's meat, and to offer the money to Icelandic hunters in exchange for the animal's life.

"We're asking the public to go and bid for the life of this whale, and send Iceland a message that the public will not stand for the hunting of these whales,� Leah Garces, WSPA's campaign director, told BBC News. If the hunters or the government of Iceland refuse the exchange, the money will go toward WSPA's ongoing anti-whaling campaign.

Iceland, like Japan and Norway, hunts whales despite an international ban on commercial whaling in place since 1986. The Reykjavik government plans to allow 30 minke and 9 fin whales to be hunted this year, even though fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) have been listed as "endangered� by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) since 1996. International trade in the species, which witnessed serious declines throughout much of the 20th century, is also prohibited. In early November, diplomats from 25 countries delivered a formal letter of protest against the resumed whaling to the Icelandic government, according to the BBC.

Worldwatch Institute researcher Brian Halweil notes that WSPA's creative grassroots action is the type of consumer-driven campaign that can save the world's declining sea life from over-harvesting and devastation. "Cultures that have traditionally hunted and eaten whales may have a right to resume hunting whale populations that have recovered from centuries of overfishing,� he observes. "But that isn't the case for fin whales or many of the other species being taken for commercial purposes.�

This story was produced by Eye on Earth, a joint project of the Worldwatch Institute and the blue moon fund. View the complete archive of Eye on Earth stories, or contact Staff Writer Alana Herro at aherro [AT] worldwatch [DOT] org with your questions, comments, and story ideas.

Alana Herro writes for Eye on Earth (e²), a service of World Watch Magazine in partnership with the blue moon fund. e² provides a unique perspective on current events, newly released studies, and important global trends.

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You could raise the money and save the life of a whale, which possibly would draw the attention of the government. Is this really all that can be done? It seems like these kind of actions apparently have to be taken to make them aware of our concern. Sadly.
Iceland seems such a beautiful land to travel to, but maybe it would also help if we would stop doing so for a while.

Posted by: Do Worry on 19 Nov 06

You're layout is broken in Firefox. The ads are covering the articles.

Posted by: Jeremy on 19 Nov 06

The ad is mucking up the text in Safari as well.

Boo to ads and boo to Iceland.

Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 19 Nov 06

O yes, I forgot to say in my first comment, in Camino (mac) the ad by Google destroys the layout too.

Posted by: Hugo on 19 Nov 06

Maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't this run the risk of just encouraging the very same people who are hunting the whales? By paying them money in exchange for the life of the whale, we're just giving them funding. The recent boycott of the tourist industry there also seems an ill fit, since it is the tourism industry that is fighting to stop the hunting.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I know there has to be a better way to get the point across!

Posted by: Heidi Guenin on 19 Nov 06

Sorry about the layout problems, folks. It doesn't appear to be the ad code that is breaking the layout. We're investigating an will fix it as quickly as possible.

Posted by: Leif Utne on 19 Nov 06

Use the money to buy shares in the whaling companies, then when a majority is achieved convert the company to providing ferries and tourist trips.

Posted by: bob on 20 Nov 06

Comments so far mention "aware of our concern", "get the point across", "when a majority is achieved".

I guess I just don't get it. I thought Iceland was a democracy. So what's the problem here that folks think needs fixing? Is democracy in Iceland broken?

Maybe there's nothing wrong with hunting a few whales. Much like it's OK to hunt deer, etc. just so long as it's done humanely and with a careful eye on population levels.

Posted by: Michael Saunby on 21 Nov 06

The hunting should be limited. But, who will make that happen. Japan and Skandinavian countries abviously don't care what the world says.

Posted by: reverse auctions on 1 Dec 06



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