Authorities in Iceland have announced plans to kill more than 2,000 whales in a five-year period, sparking outrage and concern from members of the public.
The announcement comes as a result of the Icelandic government refusing to ban whaling, which is the practice of hunting and killing whales for their oil, meat, and whalebone.
Although there’s a declining global market for whale meat and falling public support, the government still continues to back the practice – enraging environmentalist groups.
As reported by the Independent, whalers in the country will be authorised to harpoon 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales in Icelandic waters every year until 2023 – a total of 2,130 whales.
Environmental groups have slammed the government’s decision to kill these whales, calling it ‘morally repugnant’ and ‘economically bankrupt’.
Vanessa Williams-Grey, a campaigner for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, said:
The Icelandic government’s decision to continue to kill whales – amongst the most peaceful and intelligent beings on the planet – is morally repugnant as well as economically bankrupt.
The nation’s fisheries minister, Kristjan Thor Juliusson, reportedly said these numbers were sustainable and were based on the latest scientific research.
When making the announcement, the government mentioned the economic benefits of whaling, as well as the official figures which showed populations of the once endangered fin whale were recovering.
They said in a statement:
During the most recent count in 2015, their population in the central North Atlantic was estimated at 37,000, or triple the number from 1987.
This was supported by the recent conclusion by the International Union for Conservation of Nature who stated fin whale numbers were on the rise.
Regardless of whether their numbers are on the rise, it remains true that fin whales were once endangered and so the possibility of them being so again is extremely likely – especially if people continue to kill them.
Campaigners say the rising number of whales should not be taken as a green light for more hunting, because there’s uncertainty about global whale numbers, as well as multiple threats facing the mammals.
It’s also been noted whaling brought in 1.7 billion krona in 2017, while whale watching revenue was 3.2 billion krona (£20 million).
The International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) ban on commercial whale hunting has been in place since 1987, however Iceland – along with Norway – continue to defy these rules.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).