Commercial Whaling Opposition - GlobalWe’re shifting the global mindset and protecting whales for the future
30 September 2022 - As the whaling season finally comes to an end in Iceland, 148 fin whales have been slaughtered this year. According to IFAW´s (International Fund for Animal Welfare) sources in Iceland, around a quarter of the whales were not killed the first time, as they were harpooned with grenades that failed to explode inside them, underscoring the cruelty of the hunt.
“It is unbearable to imagine how these animals must suffer. Studies have shown that it can take up to 25 minutes for a whale to die after being shot with an explosive harpoon,” said Sharon Livermore, Director of Marine Conservation for IFAW. “This summer, one fin whale was landed with four harpoons in its body. This tragic example indicates that many whales suffer a slow and agonising death because of whaling.”
This year, the Icelandic Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, signed a new whale welfare regulation that requires video surveillance of every hunt that takes place in Icelandic waters. These new regulations are meant to be similar to those in place for the slaughtering and hunting other animals in the country. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority is responsible for implementing these rules, which came into force in August after a short consultation period.
“It is good news that the Icelandic government is taking a closer look at the way in which whales are being killed during this outdated practice. Data from the video surveillance should be made available to the public this winter, and analysed by international experts to guarantee transparency. The results must be unequivocal, and the world will learn about this inherently cruel business that no economic gain can justify,” adds Livermore. “We also call on the Fisheries Minister to ensure that the planned economic analysis be rigorous and to the highest international standards. With Japan as the only, and reluctant, destination for this whale meat and the shipping route through the Arctic closed, this endeavour can hardly be economically viable and in the interests of Icelanders.”
More than 1,500 fin and minke whales have been killed in Iceland since 2003—the year the country resumed commercial whaling after a 13-year hiatus. The whalers of Hvalur hf resumed fin whaling in 2009 and have killed 991 fin whales to date. The company did not hunt fin whales, the second largest mammal on earth, in 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021. The current whaling quota will expire by the end of 2023.
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Notes to Editors:
Further renewals of the five-year whaling quotas could continue to strain Iceland’s international relations including with the US, which has had diplomatic sanctions (the so-called Pelly Amendment) in place against Iceland since 2014 due to its commercial whaling activities and whale meat trade.
Whale watching is one of the top tourist activities in Iceland, attracting more than 350,000 customers each year and generating almost €20 million annually, proving that whales are worth far more to the Icelandic economy alive than dead.