Endangered Fin Whales Won’t Be Hunted in Iceland This Year
Iceland’s lone whaling company announced they won’t be hunting†this summer, which means about 150 of the†country’s endangered fin whales will be spared.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling in 1986, but like Japan, Iceland continued to use the scientific whaling loophole. After leaving the IWC in the 1990s in protest and returning in 2002, Iceland resumed scientific whaling in 2003 and commercial whaling in 2006. Hunts were canceled in 2011 and 2012 because of a lack of demand for meat, but resumed yet again in 2013.
Despite a dwindling market for whale meat, public opposition, diplomatic measures and a global ban on commercial whaling, Icelandís small industry hasn’t stopped and has instead continued to senselessly and violently slaughter whales in an unsustainable manner, all the while undermining global efforts to protect them.
Now there’s some good news for endangered fin whales who have been targeted in these hunts.
Kristjan Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur hf, Icelandīs lone fin whaling company announced that they will not be hunted this summer. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), this year’s reprieve is due mainly to Japan’s testing for contaminants in whale meat, which has been found to contain environmental contaminants that are too high to be safe for human consumption.
This is the second year in a row the hunt for fin whales has been called off, which is expected to save more than 150 lives. In 2015, the last time fin whales were hunted, 155 of them were slaughtered.
The good news for fin whales is only hampered by the fact that minke whales will still be targeted this year Ė mainly to feed tourists. These tourists are now headed to Iceland in unprecedented numbers, and are believed to be a major force supporting the demand for whale meat, which they are led to believe is a traditional food.
Conservationists, and organizations including IFAW and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, have been working to educate Iceland’s visitors about the cruelty involved and the harm whaling is doing, and have continued to support sustainable tourism activities like whale watching, which is believed to be worth far more to Icelandís economy than the industries killing whales.
IFAW, in partnership with the Association for Icelandic Whale Watchers (IceWhale), has been running a Meet Us, Don’t Eat Us campaign in an effort to get tourists to stop trying whale meat and help support bringing commercial whaling to an end.
If you’re going to be visiting Iceland, or know someone who is, check out IceWhale for more about whale-friendly restaurants and year-round whale watching opportunities.
Photo credit: Lori Mazzuca, AFSC/Kodiak/NOAA