Whaling in Norway
Commentary by Erwin Vermeulen
The whale-killing ship, Reinefangst – photo: Erwin VermeulenYou can’t say Spitsbergen is unspoiled. The massacres perpetrated by the Dutch and other European countries since the 17th century made sure that even now the once plentiful Bowhead whale is rarely spotted among these islands in the Arctic. There are beaches here, full of the bleached and weathered skulls and bones of hundreds of slaughtered belugas, and the walrus was almost hunted to local extinction. Still it is the scenic beauty and remaining wildlife that today attracts thousands of tourists to these snow-covered peaks jutting from the cold waters.
You would think that mankind and especially Norway, that governs these isles under the geo-political name of Svalbard, would have drawn lessons from that ignorant, destructive past and that the tourist money would be an extra incentive to protect all that is left…Not so!
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