Anti-whaling advocates are celebrating an early end to Iceland’s commercial hunt for minke whales for the year.
Despite an international moratorium on commercial whaling, Iceland, Norway and Japan have continued to senselessly slaughter
Out of this year’s self-imposed quota of 262 minke whales, only six were killed making it the lowest number to have lost their lives since the country resumed commercial whaling in 2003. It’s six too many, but the decline, along with the reasons the hunt ended early, are promising signs this industry is on its last legs.
Local media reports cited high costs, low profits and a declining interest in whale meat as reasons for such a poor hunting season. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Gunnar Jonsson, spokesperson for IP Fisheries, Iceland’s main minke whaling company, also added the enlargement of a whale sanctuary in Faxafloi Bay near the capital of Reykjavik last year.
The area has historically been an ideal hunting ground, but the expansion of the sanctuary has added to difficulties by making whalers travel much further to hunt whales outside the area, which has already made it much less economically viable.
“This is very good news for minke whales and Iceland,” said Sigursteinn Masson, Iceland Representative for IFAW. “Ending minke whaling will have a very positive impact on the far more economically viable commercial whale watching industry.”
While minke whale meat is sold in Iceland, a poll commissioned by IFAW found that only one percent of Icelanders eat it regularly, while another 82 percent said they never eat it. Tourists, on the other hand, continue to be a driving force behind the demand but interest has also declined since IFAW launched its Meet Us Don’t Eat Us campaign in 2011 to help educate people about the industry. More restaurants have also committed to taking whale meat off of their menus.
Hopefully more awareness about the issue will help drive this industry into the past where it belongs, and whale watching will take its place as a far more lucrative and sustainable business.
“IFAW will continue to campaign against whaling which is cruel, wasteful and unnecessary. IFAW’s successful campaign against minke whaling in Iceland was done with understanding and respect for Iceland and its people, and in building alliances within the country that focus on what is best for Iceland and for whales,” added Masson.
Even that minke whales are safe for the year, endangered fin whales are still being targeted, and 57 of them have already been killed, including a rare blue/fin whale hybrid, which recently sparked outrage.
For more on how to help end whaling in Iceland, check out organizations including IFAW, Sea Shepherd and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
You can also help keep the pressure on right now by signing and sharing the petition New Petition: Icelandic Whalers Have Killed an Iconic and Endangered Blue Whale. Lets Keep Going Whaling Must End! urging Iceland’s Prime Minister to end whaling once and for all.
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