After a two-year break, whale hunting conducted by Hvalur hf. will resume again this summer.
MBL reports that the company has been granted a quota of 161 fin whales to hunt this summer, up from the 155 fin whales they were allowed to hunt the last time they went whaling, in 2015. The aim of the hunt is to develop nutritional supplements for the anemic from the meat, to make gelatin from the bones, and to use the whale blubber for unspecified medical purposes.
As reported, Hvalur hf. had taken a break from whale hunting both last year and the year before. Kristján Loftsson, the head of the company, told reporters that this pause was due to largely bureaucratic reasons, but that 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.
Furthermore, while whale hunters have been having a hard time finding whales in Faxaflói Bay, whale watching groups have been finding a plethora of whales, leading one to wonder if the whales are savvy enough to avoid hunting ships, and to instead swim near whale watching boats.