August 18, 2017: Behind NAMMCO – Einar Lemche, Greenland
The People behind NAMMCO
A former figure of NAMMCO, one of the major driving forces behind the NAC memorandum of understanding and the establishment of NAMMCO — Einar Lemche, Greenland.
At the end of the 1980ies several regional fisheries organisations covered the North Atlantic – NAFO, NEAFC and NASCO. None of them included marine mammals (although NAFO’s predecessor ICNAF dealt with seals).
At that time, my work focused on Greenland’s bilateral fisheries agreements (including the one with EU) and I was the representative of Greenland in NAFO, NEAFC and NASCO. As many marine mammal stocks occur in Greenland waters (most of them transboundary), I began – together with colleagues from other countries – to work towards the establishment of an organisation for North Atlantic marine mammals, the North Atlantic Committee for Cooperation on Research on Marine Mammals (NAC), the forerunner of NAMMCO. I became its chairman and we continued to work towards the agreement establishing NAMMCO.
Over the years I served as chairman of most NAMMCO bodies. Experience from NAFO, NEAFC and NASCO proved helpful in developing NAMMCO. With respect to significant achievements of NAMMCO – apart from the fact that NAMMCO is there – I would point in particular to NAMMCO’s scientific work which has become widely respected.
The funniest experience I have had with NAMMCO was at the Inauguration Feast in Nuuk on 9. April 1992. Many have, no doubt, heard this story before, but here comes THE AUTHENTIC VERSION ! Another party took place in the same room. They had hired a blonde Danish chanteuse, Birthe Kjær, who – as the evening progressed – entertained all people in the room. She addressed some specifically though, and cast her eye on a tall, handsome Icelandic minke whale hunter, Konrad. Ms. Kjær began to smile to him, dance towards him, and sing to just him, unaware of the fact that the only language Konrad understood, was Icelandic. Konrad reacted in no way whatsoever.
This went on for quite some time, more and more embarrassing. To get out of the embarrassing situation, Kristjan Loftsson, offered himself as a mediator. Since he was not really interpreting, Kristjan went “invisible” by sitting on the floor with a white napkin covering his head.
Birthe Kjær (dancing towards and singing to Konrad): ”I love you, I love you, I looove you….”
Konrad stiff as a trunk, whispered to Kristjan, in Icelandic: “What does she say?” Kristjan (from his hiding) whispered back: ”She says that she loves you”. Konrad: ”Does she, really ? – This is awful. What shall I do?” Kristjan to Konrad: ”Just say that you love her”. Konrad: ”But I can’t”. Kristjan (slightly irritated): ”Of course you can ! Just say that you love her !” Konrad: ”But I don’t ! ”