There will be no whale hunting conducted in Iceland this year until late August, although it won’t be due to complaints from whale watching companies.
Whale hunters and whale watching tour companies have long taken issue with each other, as they happen to both see their largest spike in activity in the summer time. Although whale hunting and whale watching areas have been more clearly delineated, whale watchers – among many other Icelanders – still maintain that the practice has a negative impact on Iceland’s image abroad.
One compromise that has been proposed in the past has been to allow for whale hunting in the fall or spring, instead of summer. This year, whale hunting will not kick off until late autumn, although the reason has nothing to do with concerns for Iceland’s tourists.
Rather, Skessuhorn reports, the delay is due to the devastating tsunami and earthquake which struck Japan last March. Amidst the destruction, a processing plant for whale meat from Hvalfjörður was badly damaged, and can therefore not receive any imports from Iceland.
Gunnlaugur Fjólar Gunnlaugsson, the project manager of the whaling station in Hvalfjörður, said that having to push back the start of whaling season to an undetermined time was a big disappointment for everyone, saying also that it has not just been the natural disaster itself but national grieving that has kept people for the most part indoors in Japan. Skessuhorn added that work at the Hvalfjörður plant has provided employment for 25 people in the region.