Iceland will stop whaling in 2024

  • Iceland, Norway and Japan are the only countries in the world that allow whaling, despite repeated criticism

Iceland, one of the last three countries still commercial whaling, plans to end this activity from 2024in the face of sharply declining demand, the government announced Friday.

Since three consecutive summers -the usual fishing season- the harpoons are virtually stopped in the waters of the enormous North Atlantic island, despite the large quotas for the current period (2019-2023).

This is due to the resumption of commercial hunting in Japan the main market for whale meat, as well as the entry into force of a coastal zone banning fishing, forcing people to go deeper into the sea.

“Unless otherwise stated, there is little reason to allow whaling from 2024, “when the current quotas expire, said Svandis Svavarsdottir, Minister of Fisheries, a member of Iceland’s ruling left – wing Green Party.

“There is little evidence that this activity has any economic benefit,” he wrote in an article published by the daily newspaper Morgunbladid. And the decision was celebrated by environmental protection organizations.

“Is a excellent news for Iceland, the whales that live in its waters and its world-famous whale watching industry, ”said Sharon Livermore, director of marine conservation at the International Fund for Animal Protection (IFAW), in a statement.

Iceland, Norway and Japan is the only countries in the world to allow whaling, despite repeated criticism from environmental activists and animal advocates, warnings about the toxicity of the meat and a declining market.

The Icelandic chancea, which was revalued in 2019, allows a total of 209 fin whales to be caught annually and by the end of 2023 – the second largest marine mammal after the blue whale – and 217 dwarf whales, one of the smallest whales.

A single catch in three years

However, due to a lack of demand, the two main licensees were paralyzed, with one of them, IP-Útgerd, announcing in early 2020 that he will definitely release his catches. The other one, Hvalur, decided not to take part in the last three campaigns.

During the last three seasons in Iceland, just an animal -A dwarf whale, in 2021- was caught. Japan, by far the largest market for whale meat, resumed commercial whaling in 2019 after a three-decade hiatus.

Although the archipelago he sold his own goods by “scientific” catches whaling – under a quota – could be resumed after the resumption withdrawal from Tokyo of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

That body banned commercial whaling in 1986, but Iceland, which opposed the moratorium, resumed it in 2003. Blue whale hunting, which was banned by the commission, was also banned in Iceland.

In 2018, the last summer of significant whaling in Icelandic waters, 146 fin and six dwarf whales were killed.

Iceland, an island of 370,000 people with its economy increasingly focused on tourism, sees a thriving whale watching industry for foreign visitors.

For marine biologist Gisli Vikingsson, whaling may be sustainable if quotas are respected, but the acceptability of this practice goes beyond scientific considerations.

Stagnant mark

“Although whaling be biologically sustainable, it may not be socially or economicallyand this is outside our sphere of competence, ”this expert from the Institute for Marine and Freshwater Research told AFP.

The hunting situation in Norway is also stagnant many years.

Whalers are struggling to cover the quotas granted by the government and the number of ships involved in this internationally controversial activity is still declining.

Related news

In 2021, 575 whales were caught, less than half of the authorized quotas, by the 14 vessels still active in Norwegian waters.

In the North Sea, the Faroe Islands allow the ritual hunting of dolphins, the so-called “Grind”, for local consumption, despite the fact that their meat is loaded with heavy metals and is the subject of international controversy.

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