Published March 10, 2017
Kristján Loftsson – head of Iceland’s largest whaling company, Hvalur hf. – has announced that he will not be hunting any fin whales this summer, and had not hunted any the summer previous.
Kristján told MBL that the main reason for this is the red tape he must endure in order to export whale meat to Japan. He says that Icelandic authorities have been in discussion with Japanese officials over the matter, without reaching any conclusion.
As reported, Kristján did not hunt fin whales last summer, for largely the same reasons. However, Japanese bureaucracy has not been the only obstacle he 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.
All this said, the hunting of minke whales, which are plentiful in Icelandic waters and not endangered, will not only continue; their quota will be increased, in large part due to tourist demand for the meat.