The NAMMCO International Conference and Showcase “Marine Mammals: A Sustainable Food Resource“, highlighted the use and importance of whales and seals as a food resource, and focused on the role of marine mammals as part of sustainable and resilient food systems and food cultures in the North Atlantic and around the world– today and in the future.
The conference featured a special food event where international chefs showcased how marine mammals are used in different food cultures and served a variety of whale and seal dishes displaying the potential for more innovative use of marine mammals in modern gastronomy. A movie screening was also part of the program which showed “Ice, Seals and Men” by Shane Mahoney and the documentary “Behind THE COVE” by Keiko Yagi. Mahoney’s film traces the story of the hunt for seals on Newfoundland and Labrador’s coasts – from prehistory to the present day while Yagi’s documentary attempts to present a comprehensive picture of the dolphin and whale hunting issues in Japan, which includes interviews with people on both sides of the whaling dispute.
Hosted by the Government of the Faroe Islands, the Conference gathered some 175 participants from a range of backgrounds, including hunters and academics, chefs and policy makers, scientists and media in Canada, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and USA.
Main messages from the Conference included:
With a growing world population in a time of climate crisis and geopolitical instability, marine mammals remain a staple and environmentally friendly food source for many, making an important contribution to global food security and nutrition
Marine mammals continue to have essential economic, social and cultural importance as renewable resources for many societies around the world, a reality that is becoming better recognised in international discussions
Younger generations are showing a growing interest in marine mammals as food, with an emphasis on choosing climate-friendly resources and preserving local food heritage for the future.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission in 1992. Sustainable harvesting of marine mammals for food defines NAMMCO and unites the member countries – the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and Norway – who all share a strong commitment to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 – to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Coastal communities around the world have used marine mammals sustainably for food for thousands of years and continue to do so. Many whale and seal populations are healthy and robust enough to support regulated and precautionary catches and represent a low-carbon, environmentally friendly and sustainable source of animal protein. At least 85 different species of whales and seals are consumed in over 100 countries around the world.
Adapting quality produce from marine mammals to new trends in modern gastronomy, such as New Nordic Cuisine, is bringing traditional marine-based food cultures into the 21st century, ensuring their continued relevance and interest especially for younger generations.