Svandis Svavarsdottir, Iceland’s Fisheries Minister, wrote in the Icelandic newspaper that Iceland will end its commercial whaling practices by 2024 because of dwindling economic benefits. MorgunbladidFriday
“There are few justifications not to authorize the whale hunting beyond 2024,” said the minister, who is also a member of Left-Green.
“There is very little evidence that this activity is economically profitable,” she said.
Icelandic whalers have experienced little activity over the past three years. There has been only one whale killed in that time period.
Weak whaling markets
Along with Norway and Japan, Iceland is the only country that allows commercial whaling.
This practice often draws the attention of animal rights activists as well as environmentalists.
One of the favored targets, the fin whale which is only second in size to the blue whale is an endangered species. The annual quota for Icelandic Whalers for this species was 209, but they haven’t been able to catch as many over the years.
Japan’s 2019 return of whaling after a 30-year absence has reduced the demand for Icelandic whales caught in the Asian country. Iceland’s whalers now find it difficult to justify the expense of an expedition due to the loss of this important market.
The no-fishing zone on the coast has also meant that few boats still making the trip are now having to travel further into Atlantic Ocean, increasing costs.
Tourism is up, but whaling dwindles
The coronavirus pandemic caused a major disruption to the industry. Because of social distancing rules, whale processing plants were unable to operate.
However, only 146 fin whales died and six Minke whales were lost in 2018.
Norway has had a similar experience but with fewer whalers than catches. In 2021, Norwegian vessels harpooned 575 baleens, less that half of their allotted limit.
Iceland has also experienced a boom in tourism as thousands flock to see the sea creatures in the waters off the Atlantic Island.
Before the pandemic, 360,000 whale-watchers visited the island in 2019, a number that was similar to Iceland’s.
This article was written by AFP.
Edited by Sean Sinico