Conflicting Cultural Values: Whale Tourism in Northern Norway


  • Mats Ris



Anti-harvesting, Culture (Anthropology), Economic conditions, Public education campaigns, Public opinion, Public participation, Sustainable economic development, Tourist trade, Whales, Whaling, Wildlife management, Norway


This paper examines an example of cultural conflict in the case of a whale tourism project in northern Norway. The project has caused conflict since foreign entrepreneurs and their sponsors have moved in with the explicit purpose of putting an end to whaling by various means of changing the whalers' and local people's conception about whales. It is argued in this paper that the reason behind the introduction of The project follows an increasing ideological trend in the Western world today: the non-consumptive utilization of whales. This idea rejects whales as a fishery resource in favour of developing an emotional and recreational relationship towards them and at the same time helping unemployed whalers. The entrepreneurs have thus tried to transform "the Whale" from within the traditional cultural context in northern Norway by introducing an alien image of it as something humans are only supposed to consume by non-material means. Finally, it is concluded that the entrepreneurs have not succeeded in changing either local attitudes towards whales or the economic situation for the whalers, since whaling and other coastal communities in northern Norway show a high degree of cultural resistance.

Key words: tourism, whales, whaling, whale watching, Norway, cultural conflict, common property, natural resources