Whale watching season has begun, and is off to a good start.
The northern town of Húsavík, where whale watching is a major industry, is reporting that at least five different species of whale have been spotted swimming in the massive bay near the town. Already numerous boats are taking tourists out on excursions.
Whale watching is an important industry for Iceland, and perhaps one of the most self-sustaining. It requires little initial investment, and thousands of tourists come to Iceland every year largely to go whale watching. While Húsavík is a major whale-watching center, we would be remiss to omit the fact that Reykjavík also has numerous whale watching tours available. There are, in fact, few places off the coast of Iceland where whales can’t be seen.
Recently, whale watching companies have butted heads with the Ministry of Fisheries over the continued whale hunting controversy – their contention is that the practice hurts the tourist industry, and that the designated “whale hunt free” zones are entirely too small. The ministry has countered by saying that there is no indication that Iceland has economically suffered as a result of the practice of hunting whales. Interestingly, the ministry can’t claim hunting has helped the economy, either.