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Minister casts doubt over future of whaling in Iceland

Cruel hunts could end in 12 months

Following three years with no whaling in Iceland, the country’s Fisheries Minister has cast doubt over the return of the cruel hunts.

In an article published by local news outlet Morgunblaðið, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries said that there is now little justification for authorizing whaling.

With the current permits to hunt due to run out in 2023, Svavarsdóttir’s comments now cast serious doubt over any being issued after that date. She acknowledged that whaling has not had much economic significance for the national economy in recent years, and that there is little to justify allowing it to continue once permits expire next year.

The Minister stated that the resumption of commercial whaling in Iceland in 2006 has been controversial as many see the hunts as not serving Iceland's macroeconomic interests and that they have had a negative effect on Iceland’s interests and reputation. ‘It must be shown that it is economically justifiable to renew fishing rights,’ she stated. She also goes on to say that it is ‘not reasonable to claim that the fishing is sustainable in a social or economic sense…and why should Iceland take the risk of maintaining fishing that has not yielded economic benefits in order to sell a product that is in low demand? All things being equal, there is little to justify allowing whaling after 2024’.

Show your appreciation

Send a tweet to Icelandic Fisheries Minister, Svandís Svavarsdóttir to thank her for this positive action.

Whaling is a cruel and outdated practice. The last hunts to take place off the coast of Iceland saw over 146 fin whales slaughtered, including at least two rare blue whale/fin whale hybrids and a dozen pregnant females. Whales play a huge part in maintaining a healthy ocean and so helping in the fight against climate breakdown. Their populations should be encouraged to grow not cut down in these hunts.

WDC has long campaigned against commercial whaling of both fin and minke whales in Iceland, and the transit of fin whale meat to Japan, and so the latest announcement by the Minister is extremely positive for our campaign.

Vanessa Williams-Grey, WDC Icelandic whaling campaigner: ‘This is obviously hugely welcome news that the fisheries minister sees no future for whaling - and not before time. Icelandic whalers have killed hundreds of whales in recent years, despite almost zero domestic demand, and declining interest from tourists and the Japanese market. Killing fin whales, an endangered species and the second largest creature on our planet, is nothing short of ecocide, especially given the essential role these gentle giants play in the battle against climate change.

‘WDC has been working with Icelanders to end whaling and promote live whales for nearly thirty years so it's great to report that Iceland enjoyed a fabulous whale watch season last summer. Iceland is one of the best places in the world to watch whales in their natural environment I hope this marks the start of a new and positive era for the whales in the waters around Iceland.’

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About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.

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