Iceland won’t be whaling this year

Posted on 28 April 2020

In a win for marine species conservation, Icelandic companies won’t be whaling this year and will skip the summer whaling season.

iceland, whales, whaling

A company called IT-útgerð, which mostly hunted minke whales, announced in April that it will stop whaling altogether. This comes as a result of financial strain. Marine protected areas and no-fishing zones were expanded, making it more expensive to hunt further offshore.

This year will mark the second year that Iceland’s largest whaling company, Hvalur hf., has had to skip the northern hemisphere’s summer whaling season. Hvalur mainly hunts fin whales, which are larger than minke whales.

The company makes a lot of money selling whale meat to Japan. Hvalur has not been able to compete with the country’s domestic whaling industry. This subsidised by the Japanese government, which has also intensified import regulations for whale meat, according to Mongabay.

The COVID-19 pandemic no doubt has a big impact on the whaling industry too, especially Hvalur, despite the fact that there’s been a global moratorium on fin whale hunting since 1986 (International Whaling Commission). Due to social distancing and lockdown precautions, key production processes and labour will not be possible during this period.

Iceland has also reduced its maximum annual whale-hunting quotas to 209 for fin whales and 217 minke whales, which will extend to 2023.

Apart from Iceland, other countries where commercial whaling takes place are Japan and Norway.

The IUCN Red List lists fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) as vulnerable and minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) as least concern.


Image: Unsplash

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