Tomorrow the boat Jóhanna ÁR will set sail from Njarðvík to begin hunting for minke whales.
The crew on board have received three whale hunting licenses, and the quota for minke whales is 100. The weather is supposed to be decent tomorrow, and if the cull is successful the hunters expect to get whale meat in the stores by this weekend.
Last February Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Steingrímur J. Sigfússon instituted a clear demarcation between whale hunting areas and whale watching areas, as many whale watching groups complained that whale hunting hurts their business. Whale watching businesses are still unhappy with the designated areas they are given to operate, which they say are entirely too small and unfairly favor the whale hunters. In case you’re staying in Reykjavík and were worried about witnessing a whale cull, fear not – the Faxaflói harbour around the Reykjavík area is one of the designated whale-watching-only areas.
Whale watching is a booming industry in Iceland, with very little initial investment or overhead required to operate it. Thousands of tourists flock to Iceland each year, a great many of them to go whale watching. Whale hunting, by contrast, has needed to be subsidized by tax money to stay afloat, and there have been difficulties in finding a market for whale meat.