BERLIN (Reuters) - Whale watchers say their industry, now worth over $1.5 billion per year, has come of age, and want recognition at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) -- to the consternation of whaling nations.
The International Alliance for Commercial Whale Watchers (IACWW) made its first appearance as an observer at the annual IWC meeting this week and called for the body to recognize their industry, and that whaling threatens it.
They also want the commission to tackle conservation issues, such as pollution, which pose a risk to whales.
"We see ourselves as the new whalers," Frank Future, the Australian head of the fledgling IACWW, told Reuters.
Whaling nations, led by Japan and Norway, insisting the IWC should stick to its original aim of deciding hunting quotas. They say conservation and whale watching are side issues.
This is amusing. Given the fairly parlous state of the old whalers I'd love to be a fly on the wall while they argue that slaughter is good but more profitable nonlethal industries are bad.