Iceland’s Biggest Whaling Companies Will Not Kill Any Whales This Year
Iceland’s largest whaling companies have decided to not kill any whales this year, a move that will save over 100 of the mammals.
Minke, fin and sei whales are typically targeted in Icelandic waters with 152 of them in total being killed in 2018.
Whaling company IP-Utgerd has announced it is ceasing whaling altogether, while Hvalur hf – the largest whaling company in Iceland – has said it won’t be conducting any hunts for the second year running.
While the news is welcomed by many conservationists and activists, the reasoning behind the company’s decisions is due to financial reasons rather than ethical ones.
Hvalur hf, which typically hunts fin whales, has stated it is postponing its hunts for the second year running because of the lack of demand for whale meat from Japan – its main buyer – as the country has started doing its own whaling.
The company also blamed the ongoing health crisis as detrimental to its business as it prevents its employees from hunting and processing the meat, as they would have to work in close proximity.
IP-Utgerd had encountered financial difficulties when no-fishing zones were extended off the Icelandic coast, meaning ships were having to venture further out.
Whaling has been a controversial issue for decades, with the International Whaling Commission (IWC) stating it would ban all commercial whaling by 1986.
Many countries stopped whaling after the IWC’s ban, but Iceland resumed its commercial whaling activities in 2003.
The WWF reported that more than 31,000 whales have been killed by countries that continued whaling since the ban (also known as the moratorium) came into place.
According to Whales.org, 146 fin whales had been killed in Iceland by the end of the 2018 season, including at least two rare blue/fin whale hybrids, a dozen pregnant females, and six minke whales.
Last year was the first time in 17 years there hadn’t been any whale hunts in Iceland over the summer.
The stopping of whaling successfully helped the blue whale bounce back from the brink of extinction following a drastic 97% reduction in their numbers.
Blue whales were savagely hunted for years for their blubber, baleen and meat, which saw 176,000 killed in just 60 years. Back in February, however, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) found an ‘unprecedented’ number of the whales in South Georgia.
Fingers crossed the lack of whaling taking place in Iceland will help restore the fin and sei whale populations.
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