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Horta ,  July 24, 2009

Whaling debated on Pico Island

Whaling, an activity that saw its Golden Age in the Azores after World War II, was on debate in the town of Lajes do Pico today, counting upon the participation of experts from various countries.

Organised by the Pico Museum, this event titled “Memory and Identity – a multicultural perspective” (Memória e Identidade – uma perspectiva multicultural) is integrated in the Community Project “Baleiaçor,” and it was supported by the Regional Directorate of Culture of the Presidency of the Government and by the EEA Grants, the Financial Mechanism of the EU space which funded this initiative.

For the director of the Pico Museum, the organisation of this international seminar is clearly justified given “the economic, social and cultural importance” of coastal whaling in the Azores, particularly on Pico Island.

With this initiative, Manuel da Costa Jr. reminded that the Pico Museum, in which the Baleeiros Museum is integrated, also fulfils the goal of “going beyond the physical space” of the three centres that integrate it.

The seminar that took place at the Philharmonic Society “Liberdade Lajense” today counted upon the participation of the researchers Fabiana Comerlato (Archaeology and Ethnology Museum of the Bahia Federal University), Luís Freitas (Madeira Whaling Museum), James Russell (New Bedford Whaling Museum), Graça Filipe (Seixal Ecomuseum), Jan Erik Ringstad (the Whaling Museum Sandefjord from Norway), Dionísio Pereira Gonzalés (Federación Galega pola Cultura Marítima e Fluvial), José António Rodrigues Pereira (Maritime Museum) and Manuel Francisco Costa Júnior (Pico Museum).

Integrated in the same project, the 1st edition of the João Baptista Medina Regatta, in which whaling boats from Pico, Faial and S. Jorge will take part, will be held tomorrow afternoon.

The last sperm whale was captured in the Azores is 1987, when commercial whale hunting, which had been internationally forbidden since the season 1985/1986 by a moratorium on commercial whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission, had already ceased in the Archipelago.

Nevertheless, the end of the whaling activity in the Azores has led to the emergence of promising activities, such as whale watching, which currently has almost two dozens of operators.

According to a report published by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in June, the Azorean whale watching industry yielded 7.6 million Euros last year.

Furthermore, the same study revealed that the number of people who annually watch whales off the Azorean islands grew from 9,500 in 1998 to 40,180 in 2008.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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