Whale Hunting Has Returned To Iceland After A Four-Year Hiatus

Iceland’s commercial whaling companies have been on a much-celebrated hiatus over the past four years.

In other words, whale hunting had come to a standstill in the country. It’s something conservationists and scientists celebrated, given how unnecessary and damaging whaling is.

Tragically, the horrible practice is back thanks to commercial whaling company Hvalur hf. That company has brought whaling back this season off the coast of Reykjavik, and they’ve already murdered multiple whales.

Photo: PXHERE

On June 22, 2022, two whaling ships owned by Hvalur hf set off on the hunt and found their first victims: 2 at-risk fin whales.

The conservation organisation Marine Connection wrote about the upsetting news Twitter:

“Just days after leaving Reykjavík harbour in Iceland, ships owned by whaling company Hvalur hf. have killed 2 fin whales. The quota issued by Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute for this season is 161 fin whales & 217 minke whales – mind boggling and sickening!”

The return of whaling comes after Iceland had already been affected by the lack of tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions put in place since 2020. Without tourism, Iceland’s economy took a pretty large hit and whaling could just make that worse.

In an interview with CNN, Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, the executive director of the Icelandic Tourist Board, explained that whaling is thought to be detrimental to the tourism industry. She said:

“It is actually well known and widely reported that the tourism industry believes that whaling hurts Iceland’s image as a tourism destination. All you need do is look at how whaling is reported on in the foreign press.

Photo: flickr/Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith

It is often reported in larger publications with heated coverage. In the tourism industry, both in private companies and in public polls; in letters, phone calls, and in other communications, whaling has a very precise effect, and tourism companies feel it the moment whaling enters the discussion again.”

Hvalur hf’s whaling license is set to expire in 2024 and it’s possible that the license won’t be renewed.

According to Oceanographic, Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, has stated: “There are few justifications to authorise the whale hunt beyond 2024. There is little proof that there is any economic advantage to this activity.”

Photo: flickr/yashima

According to Iceland Review, the country’s whale hunting quota for the season has been set at 161 fin whales and 217 minke whales – numbers that could be devestating to the local whale populations.

The IUCN Red List reports fin whales as being Vulnerable while the World Wildlife Fund lists them as Endangered.

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