From Iceland — No Whaling This Summer

No Whaling This Summer

Published February 25, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Environmental Investigation Agency

There will be no whaling at all this summer, and Iceland’s top whaler has expressed regret at even starting it again in 2009.

In an interview with MBL, Kristján Loftsson – head of Iceland’s largest whaling company, Hvalur hf. – has announced that they will not be conducting any whaling of fin whales this summer. The hunting of smaller whales, such as minke whales, will in all likelihood still be conducted.

Kristján told reporters that they have been met with endless obstacles in trying to sell Icelandic whale meat in Japan, which was Kristján’s primary market for export. Amongst these obstacles, he says, are Japan’s own standards for imported meat, which are reportedly unique to Japan and exacting enough that Kristján’s whale meat cannot meet them.

“If we knew what kind of trouble was brewing in Japan when we commenced whaling in 2009, after a 20-year pause, we would have never started again,” he told reporters.

This has not been the only obstacle for exporting whale meat that Kristján has faced. The US government has said they may institute economic measures against Iceland because of whaling, and an international petition targeting Hvalur hf. specifically has garnered over a million signatures at the time of this writing.

The hacktivist movement Anonymous has also gotten involved, with a persistent campaign against the hunting of fin whales which has shut down government websites for hours at a time. Anonymous has pledged that the cyber attacks will continue until whaling ends.

The domestic market for whale meat is so minuscule as to be non-existent, and public opinion has been increasingly against whaling as well. Today, most Icelanders are against the hunting of endangered fin whales, and only about 50% support the hunting of the more abundant minke whales.

This article originally stated that all whaling operations would come to a halt. This is incorrect. Minke whales will very likely continue to be hunted. We apologize for this error.

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