Normally the whaling season in Iceland would start now, but the whalers are leaving their harpoons ashore this year too, no whaling will take place.
The last active whaling company in Iceland, Hvalur hf of whaler Kristjan Loftsson, has not yet taken any action to get its ships afloat for the season and now it is too late.
Tourists watch a minke whale in Iceland. Whale watching is one of the top tourist attractions in Iceland. (c) IFAW
“We are a hair’s breadth away from the permanent end of whaling in Iceland,” says Andreas Dinkelmeyer, campaign manager of the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) in Germany.
“In 2020 the minke whale hunters had realized that whaling was not worthwhile and gave up their business.
Now only the fin whale hunter Kristjan Loftsson remains. Officially he still has a fishing permit for fin whales. Of course we are happy that he has not killed any whales since 2018.
However, he could go hunting again next year to secure another five-year quota. “
Minke whale meat is sold in Iceland, but most of it is consumed by curious tourists. The last opinion poll commissioned by IFAW found that only about one percent of Icelanders eat whale meat on a regular basis.
Together with local whale watching companies, IFAW launched the “Meet Us Don’t Eat Us” campaign to make tourists aware that their whale meat consumption is keeping whaling alive. The campaign significantly reduced the consumption of whale meat by visitors to the Island.
In contrast to the limited local market for minke whale meat, fin whale meat has been sold exclusively to Japan since 2013 without being able to establish an export market.
Whaling hardly plays a role in the political arena of Iceland either.
Whaling was an election campaign topic for decades, but has lost its importance since 2016. Young voters are more concerned about the climate crisis and the positive contribution whales are making to maintaining healthy marine ecosystems and sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“At the moment only the pause button for commercial whaling in Iceland is pressed,” adds Dinkelmeyer.
“As long as the harpoons have not been mothballed in Iceland, whales are still at risk. Ultimately, it will be the Icelanders who will advance the decision against whaling and hit the whaling stop button. We will continue to work to promote marine conservation and responsible whale watching in Iceland. “
Since 2003, the year Iceland resumed commercial whaling, 653 minke whales and 852 fin whales have been killed for a total of 1,505 whales.
IFAW has worked with Icelanders since 2003 to promote responsible whale watching and to promote alternatives to cruel whaling.
Whale watching is one of the top tourist attractions in Iceland. More than 350,000 customers each year generate around 20 million euros, proving that whales are worth far more alive than dead.
And I mean…Good news!
The only person in the world who commercially catches fin whales is Icelandic millionaire Kristjan Loftsson, majority shareholder of the whaling company Hvalur HF.
In 2018 the company shipped 1,700 tons of fin whale meat to Japan.
However, the company is shaking because of fines, a lack of fishing licenses, court-ordered additional wages, and of course unsuccessful deals with Japan.
Whales are killed with explosive harpoons, here one of the company’s ships for fin whale hunting © Szilas
Because the fin whale meat from Iceland does not meet Japan’s meat hygiene standards.
Due to the lack of sales opportunities, the Hvalur fishing fleet has remained in the port since 2019, and officially in 2020 also because of the Covid-19 requirements for the ship’s crew.
The hunting season is now set to be canceled again for the third time, and one company probably wants to withdraw from business entirely.
According to “Der Spiegel” german magazine, this is IP-Utgerd, a company specializing in minke whales.
“The business is not worth it,” said managing director Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson.
From the point of view of the whale conservationists, the minke whales went even better.
The minke whale hunt in Iceland was suspended in 2019, and in 2020 the last minke whale hunter also threw in the towel.
With that, the subject of minke whale hunting in Iceland is probably done.
At a time when school children are demonstrating against climate change and the decimation of biodiversity, this barbarism is inhumane, a moral declaration of bankruptcy, no matter where it is still practiced anywhere in the world.
My best regards to all, Venus