Alongside Norway and Japan, Iceland is one of the few remaining countries in the world that still allows commercial whale hunting. The country’s current whaling quotas for 2019-2023 allow the hunting of 209 fin whales as well as 217 minke whales.
However, since Japan decided to resume its commercial whaling operations in 2019 after a three-decade hiatus and after the country withdrew from the International Whaling Commission, the demand for Iceland’s whale meat has decreased significantly.
Other contributing factors that led to the collapse of Iceland’s whale fisheries include the extension of a no-fishing coastal zone. It led to whaling operations becoming more expensive as they had to happen further offshore. Furthermore, due to the fact that safety requirements for imported meat are very stringent, the exporting of Icelandic whale meat is difficult. Furthermore, the pandemic rendered many whale meat processing plants unable to do business. All of these issues led to two main licence holders suspending their whale hunts, with one giving up business entirely.
Only one minke whale has been killed in the past three years. In Iceland’s last full season in 2018, on the other hand, the country killed 146 fin whales and six minke whales.
Svandis Svavarsdottir, Iceland’s fisheries minister wrote in a newspaper on 4 February: “Why should Iceland take the risk of keeping up whaling, which has not brought any economic gain, in order to sell a product for which there is hardly any demand?”
She went on to write: “There are few justifications to authorise the whale hunt beyond 2024. There is little proof that there is any economic advantage to this activity.”
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Photography courtesy of Unsplash.