In a move that is likely due part public pressure and part lack of any real market for whale meat, Iceland’s whalers will not hunt or kill any whales for the first time since 2003.
The surprising development comes after Iceland recently announced just months ago that they plan to kill more than 2,000 whale over a five-year period. The plan authorized whalers to harpoon 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales every year till 2023.
Gunnar Bergmann Jónsson, a minke whaler and the CEO of whaling company IP Útgerð, explained that the company would skip whaling and instead import whale meat from Norway to meet the little demand there is. They also stated that they would likely continue hunting whales in spring of 2020.
What this does do is buy more time for groups to fight and work for the hunting to come to an end altogether even though whaling has been banned since the 1980s under the International Whaling Commission.
According to the International Whaling Commission website, “It is well known that overexploitation by the whaling industry led to serious declines in many of the world’s populations of whales. … Many are now in the process of recovering, although not all.”
Environmentals groups and Iceland’s tourism industry has already been hard at work. The Icelandic Travel Industry Association issued a statement earlier this spring saying the government was damaging the nation’s “great interests” and the country’s reputation to benefit a small whaling sector that is struggling to sell its products.