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Wild Scotland supports Terry Nutkins and global animal charity to say watch whales don’t hunt them!

Terry Nutkins and Wild Scotland Chairman Richard Fairbairns during the filming of WSPA’s Ethical Whale-watching Campaign.

As the International Whaling Committee (IWC) meet in Madeira to decide the fate of the world’s whales, naturalist Terry Nutkins and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) go on an ethical whale watching adventure off the coast of Scotland to celebrate a more compassionate way to profit from these stunning animals.

The minke whales that live and breed in Scottish waters are threatened by the annual Norwegian whale hunt, which takes place every year in April. Norway was awarded a 2009 whaling quota of 885 minke whales and has killed over 150 whales so far this year.

Leah Garces, WSPA International Director of Programmes said: “WSPA firmly believes that whale watching is more economically significant and sustainable to people and communities than whaling. Research into the growth of the global whale watching industry estimates it to be a US $1.25 billion business enjoyed by over 10 million people in more than 90 countries each year.”

In Scotland, the last report on whale watching in 2001 showed that it was worth £7.8million per year; since then the number of wildlife tourism boat operators in Scotland has doubled.

Caroline Warburton, manager of ethical holiday association Wild Scotland said: “Interest in wildlife-watching has grown significantly over the last 10 years as more people realise what special wildlife we have right here on our doorstep.”

WSPA are calling on the IWC to develop and promote international standards for whale watching industries, to ensure they are both sustainable and humane. Right now, anyone can set up a business, with no knowledge and there is a need to ensure that boat operators have the necessary knowledge to deliver sustainable tours. Best practice charters like the ones that the Wild Scotland tour providers sign up to are important is raising standards.

Caroline continues: “Over the years, we have realised that the West Coast of Scotland is an important area for whales and dolphins and livelihoods are now dependent upon whale watching activities. Responsible whale watching provides a real alternative to whaling and that’s why we support WSPA when they call on the IWC for an end to whaling.”

Beloved Animal Magic and Really Wild Show presenter, Terry Nutkins and WSPA wanted to highlight the many positives of the ethical whale watching industry and went to the Isle of Mull, in search of minke whales with the expert Sea Life Surveys crew, a member of the not for profit organisation Wild Scotland.

Terry – host of recent BBC3 show My Life as an Animal – said: “When you see these magnificent creatures in the wild, especially in such beautiful settings, it’s shameful to think that humans hunt them for profit. Countries like Norway could compassionately reap more profit by developing their whale watching industry instead of whaling.”

It seems that whaling cruelty concerns are increasingly shared by Norway’s general public. Last month, a poll taken by WSPA and two Norwegian partner charities* found that one in three Norwegians agreed that Norway should begin phasing out commercial whale hunting because of animal welfare concerns. In the same poll only 6% of Norwegians said they regularly ate whale meat.

Whales are usually killed with explosive harpoons that detonate inside their body. The average time to death reported by Norway is two to three minutes, although some whales can take up to an hour to die; an unacceptable cruelty.

Terry added: “I suggest Brits show their support for better whale welfare by going on an ethical whale watching trip when they go on holiday this year. You don’t even have to leave the UK to do it – I’ve had a fantastic time in Scotland!”

Leah Garces added: “It is currently illegal in Norway to hang a live fish from a hook, but whales are still being killed using explosive harpoons. For a country that’s otherwise progressive on most animal welfare issues, it is extremely sad that there is such a blind-spot for whale welfare. Surely all animals should be treated humanely.”

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