Humpback whales around Nuuk placed under protection | Polarjournal
Reason for a jump of joy: Humpback whales in the fjord system of Nuuk are under protection and may not be hunted for traditional reasons. Picture: Michael Wenger

Whaling has a long tradition in Greenland. Therefore, Greenlandic hunters are also allowed to hunt a pre-determined quota of whales. In the Nuup Kangerlua, on which Greenland’s capital Nuuk is located, whales, including humpback whales are hunted. This is now a thing of the past: the local government of Semersooq, to which Nuuk also belongs, has placed the marine mammals under protection. This is reported by the newspaper Sermitsiaq.

The Council decided this morning to approve the request made by Michael Rosing MP. The motion was seconded by the Finance and Economic Commission and thus came to a vote. However, this was almost overturned, as the Siumiut party had requested a postponement of the vote. However, this was not granted.

Humpback whales are indeed on the rise again globally. But pollution, shipping and other human impacts are still a major threat to these marine mammals. In Greenland, the animals are frequent visitors along the coasts, because the food-grounds are rich there.

Humpback whales, which had previously been relatively resident, were hunted again in the fjord from 2010. But the group of humpback whales, which numbered only 6, had already been decimated to 3 again in 2014. Five years later, Michael Rosing, a member of parliament, introduced the proposal to place the animals there under protection. His argument: The whales had a much higher value alive than dead, because ships with tourists want to see the whales as an attraction. When the public was asked if they supported the protection of animals, the majority were in favour. The only doubts came from fishermen who use trawl nets to catch halibut. Environmental groups also supported the proposal. In the run-up it was also important to them to underline that it was only about the protection of the humpback whales in this fjord and not about a general ban on whaling. In Greenland, whaling is allowed as “subsistence hunting”, i.e. as part of the diet and tradition, but is strictly regulated. Marine mammals hunted include minke whales, fin whales, belugas and narwhals.

Whale watching tours between icebergs are offered near Ilulissat. There the animals find a lot of food. The argument of economic benefit has now also contributed to the protection of humpback whales in Nuuk. Picture: Michael Wenger

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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