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Iceland Set To End Whaling By 2024 Due To Lack Of Demand

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Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockFeb 4 2022, 17:33 UTC
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Tourists on the boat watching whales in Husavik bay. Image Credit: Remizov/Shutterstock.com

Tourists on the boat watching whales in Husavik bay. Image Credit: Remizov/Shutterstock.com

It's very unlikely that whaling licenses will be renewed in Iceland when they expire at the end of 2023, its Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, has announced. This will effectively end commercial whaling in Iceland once again after it was resumed back in 2006.

However, it may not be due to the controversy surrounding the nation's whaling practices. It appears that there is little economic benefit to whale hunting anymore, and a combination of the pandemic restrictions and Japan starting commercial hunting of whales again in 2019 has pushed the few firms allowed to hunt these marine mammals to stop the practice already.

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"The current fishing rights will be valid until 2023. As before, whaling will not be allowed from 2024," Svavarsdóttir, who is a member of the country’s Green Party, said on the party’s official website. "It must be demonstrated that it is economically justifiable to renew fishing rights. In a historical context, these fisheries have had a negative impact on the country's export interests. The reputational risk involved in maintaining this fishery is considerable, although it is illegible."

In 2018, firms in the Nordic country killed 146 fin whales and six Minke whales. Icelandic whalers that year were also accused of slaughtering a rare blue whale hybrid. Blue whales, the largest animal that ever existed, are an endangered species due to centuries of human hunting and protected everywhere. 

Iceland’s annual quotas for 2019-23 allow the hunting of 209 fin whales (the second largest whale) and 217 minke whales, one of the smallest. In the last three years, however, just one whale was killed, a minke whale in 2021, after some of the largest commercial whaling companies in Iceland called off their hunts for 2019 and 2020.

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Iceland remains one of the few countries that have formally objected to the ongoing global moratorium on whaling established by the International Whaling Commission in 1986 and it received sanctions from the US in 2011 for its whaling. It’s unclear at the moment the position the country will take on the subject post-2024.


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