Iceland to resume whaling this month
Last week, Iceland’s minister of fisheries announced that Iceland will begin its scientific hunt of minke whales later this month.
The quota for August and September will be 38 whales. The plan is to hunt a total of 100 minke whales, 100 fin whales and 50 sei whales over the next two years.
The main objective of its hunt is to gain knowledge on the role that minke whales have in the marine ecosystem as well as their interaction with fish stocks.
The head of Ocean Harvest, an organisation working for the sustainable use of whales, Jon Gunnarsson, applauded Iceland’s resumption of whaling.
“This is a positive move for nations who are committed to the conservation and sustainable use of whale resources for food. Iceland has always been, and always will be, a whaling nation. The fact that our pause in whaling is now coming to a halt is good,” he said.
The Scientific Committee of the IWC agreed that there is a population of about 43,000 minke whales in Icelandic waters, and that a take of 100 animals per year is unlikely to have a significant impact on that population.
Iceland stopped catching minke whales in 1986, when the moratorium on commercial whaling came into force. However, it continued to take fin and sei whales for scientific purposes until 1989.
“There will probably be an outcry by animal rights activists against Iceland, saying that this move will tarnish Iceland’s image abroad, that Icelandic trade will suffer and that tourists will stop visiting the country. Experience shows that there is nothing to fear – the outcry will last for only a short period and this will work out fine,” said Rune Frøvik, the secretary of the whaling lobby group, High North Alliance.
However, some whale-watching company owners fear that the 65,000 tourists who go whale-watching in Iceland will go elsewhere and the $8 million industry will collapse.
“There is simply no evidence that whaling and whale-watching can co-exist as many politicians have been claiming,” one company owner told the Arctic Bulletin of the World Wildlife Federation.