ORCA welcomed an announcement by the UK Government that it plans to expand the Ivory Act to cover products made from the teeth and tusks of marine mammals.
Orcas, sperm whales and narwhals are hunted for teeth and tusks, and there is evidence to suggest that after the tough legislation prohibiting ivory was introduced, traders switched to these species along with hippos (teeth) and walrus (tusks).
Baleen bristles (usually referred to as whalebone) from gray or fin whales, bones and teeth of sperm whales and tusks from narwhals and walrus were carved into items known as scrimshaw by whalers in the early 19th century to while away the hours until a whale was spotted. Some of the early scrimshaw items are now extremely valuable and collectors will pay large amounts for good examples
ORCA CEO Sally Hamilton said; “This is a welcome move by the government. It’s crucial that any avenues to generate revenue from either legal or illegal whaling are blocked and this is an important step and signal.
“History will show that after the ivory ban, attempts were made to pass off modern ivory objects as being antique, and there is a big risk of this happening again with scrimshaw items. The authorities will need to keep a close eye on imports to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”