OSLO Eat a whale and save the planet, a
Norwegian pro-whaling lobby said on Monday of a study showing
that harpooning the giant mammals is less damaging to the
climate than farming livestock.
Environmental group Greenpeace dismissed the survey, saying
almost every kind of food was more climate friendly than meat.
The survey, focused on whale boats' fuel use, showed that a
kilo (2.2 lbs) of whale meat represented just 1.9 kilo (4.2
lbs) of greenhouse gases against 15.8 for beef, 6.4 for pork
and 4.6 for chicken.
"Basically it turns out that the best thing you can do for
the planet is to eat whale meat compared to other types of
meat," said Rune Froevik of the High North Alliance, which
represents the interests of coastal communities in the Arctic.
"Greenhouse gas emissions caused by one meal of beef are
the equivalent of eight meals of whale meat," the study said.
The Norwegian-based Alliance said it was the first to
measure the "carbon footprint" of whaling. Fish and seafood was
comparable to whale meat with relatively low emissions.
Norway and Japan, the two main whaling nations, are seeking
new arguments to promote whale meat after years of condemnation
from anti-whaling nations for breaking with a 1986 moratorium
on all hunts meant to save many whale species from extinction.
Oslo says, for instance, that the small minke whales it
hunts are plentiful in the North Atlantic and that a 2008
Norwegian quota of 1,052 animals will not harm stocks. The meat
is eaten mostly as steaks or in stews.
Greenpeace said the threat of extinction was more
"The survival of a species is more important than lower
greenhouse gas emissions from eating it," said Truls Gulowsen
of Greenpeace. "Almost every food is more climate friendly than
meat. Most fish and seafood has similarly low emissions."
The Alliance survey, covering eight of Norway's 30 whaling
vessels, said they emitted 885 tones of carbon dioxide in 2007
by burning diesel fuel and landed 461 tones of whale meat. That
meant an average of 1.9 kilos of emissions per kilo of meat.
By contrast, raising cows in developed nations requires use
of tractors, ploughs and fertilizers to produce feed. The
animals themselves generate methane, a powerful greenhouse gas,
in their digestive tracts.
The Alliance said that the "carbon footprint" was up to the
first sale -- for whales the landing point and for livestock
the farm gate. Neither included processing or transport costs
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) will hold a
special meeting in London this week to review deadlock between
pro- and anti-whaling nations.
Froevik said the IWC had turned into a group devoted to
banning whaling rather than allowing hunts under strict
controls. "We compare it to a soccer club where the only rule
is that soccer is forbidden," he said.
-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click on:
(Editing by Charles Dick)