Iceland Decides to Continue Whaling, Issues Permits for 128 Fin Whales

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Iceland’s whaling industry will continue for another season, despite a declining trend.

The Icelandic government has announced that the country’s last whaling company, Hvalur hf., will receive an annual license to hunt 128 fin whales.

This allocation includes 99 whales in the Greenland/West Iceland region and 29 whales in the East Iceland/Faroe Islands region.

However, it is important to note that Hvalur hf. typically targets only the 99 whales in the Greenland/West Iceland region.

Mixed Reactions from Conservation Groups

Patrick Ramage, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), expressed profound disappointment, stating, “The world has been waiting for Iceland to end whaling. Killing 99 more whales makes no sense.”

Fin whales, the second-largest animals on Earth, can reach up to 25 meters (85 feet) in length and live up to 90 years, with a widespread presence in many of the world’s oceans.

Sharon Livermore, Marine Conservation Program Director at IFAW, offered a different perspective.

She suggested that a smaller quota might prevent a larger one in the future, as rejecting a quota request could result in the original quota of 264 whales being carried over into the next season.

This tactical approach could potentially help bring an end to commercial whaling in Iceland.

Whaling Controversy and Public Opinion

Last year, Icelandic authorities halted the whaling season after a report indicated that whaling often causes prolonged suffering for the animals, potentially violating animal welfare laws.

Despite widespread hopes that Iceland would not reissue a whaling license this year, the government decided otherwise, allowing the continuation of whaling.

Sharon Livermore highlighted that the continuation of whaling in Iceland is influenced by powerful individuals, such as Kristj√°n Loftsson, who runs Hvalur hf.

Public opinion in Iceland has shifted significantly, with a recent survey revealing that 51% of Icelanders oppose whaling, while only 29% support it.

The opposition is particularly strong among younger people, aged 18 to 29, indicating a generational divide on this issue.

Future of Whaling in Iceland

While demand for whale meat has declined, the future of whaling in Iceland remains uncertain.

Conservation groups are hopeful that Iceland will strengthen its laws to ban whaling later this year. Despite holding an exemption to the global moratorium, commercial whaling is still considered illegal by international standards.

Livermore concluded, “There are many compelling reasons why Iceland should strengthen its laws and implement a permanent ban on whaling once and for all.”

Iceland’s decision to continue whaling has sparked significant debate, but conservationists remain hopeful for a future where whaling is completely banned.

This ongoing controversy underscores the complex interplay of tradition, economic interests, and evolving public sentiment in Iceland’s approach to whaling.


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