WASHINGTON, June 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- With the whaling season in Iceland usually under way at the start of June, it is now apparent that for the third year running, no whales will be harpooned in Iceland.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which campaigns for whale protection, is encouraged to see that no endangered fin whales will be slaughtered this year by the last remaining whaling company in Iceland.
"We are a hair's breadth away from the final curtain call on Icelandic whaling," said Sharon Livermore, Director of Marine Conservation for IFAW. "2020 saw the Icelandic Minke Whalers Association accept the futility of whaling and end their bloody business. Now only Kristjan Loftsson and his fin whaling company, Hvalur hf., remain. According to quota regulations, Loftsson is still allowed to kill fin whales, but has not done so since 2018. Unfortunately this means we may still see him going whaling next year to secure a new five-year quota."
Minke whale meat is sold in Iceland, though in recent years much of it was sold to curious tourists rather than residents. The most recent poll commissioned by IFAW showed Icelanders themselves have little appetite for whale meat with only one per cent saying they eat whale meat regularly. In cooperation with local whale watch operators, IFAW has run a 'Meet Us Don't Eat Us' campaign designed to inform tourists about the reality of whaling and whale meat consumption. This campaign has curbed whale meat consumption by visitors to Iceland considerably.
In comparison to the limited domestic market for minke whale meat, fin whale meat has been exported to Japan since 2013 in an unsuccessful attempt to establish an export market.
Whaling as an issue has vanished from the political agenda within Iceland. The topic was a notorious theme in Icelandic election campaigns for decades, but since 2016, it has decreased in prominence. Young voters are more concerned about climate change, and the positive role living whales play in creating healthy ecosystems in the ocean and their contributions towards carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption from the atmosphere.
Livermore added: "The pause button may be pressed on commercial whaling for now, but whales in Icelandic waters are still at risk in the future. Thankfully, Icelanders themselves are the ones driving the decision to end whaling, for reasons that make sense to them. IFAW will continue working to advance marine conservation in Icelandic waters and progress the country's world-class, responsible whale watching industry."
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. IFAW has worked with Icelanders since this time to promote responsible whale watching as an alternative to the cruelty of whaling.
For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Rodger Correa via email at [email protected]. Images are available on request.
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.
The poll was carried out by Gallup between in two waves between October 1 and November 4, 2019, to survey Icelanders' attitudes to whale hunting. The survey was carried out online across Iceland targeting only those aged 18 years and over randomly selected from Gallup's Internet Panel. Total number of respondents was 880 (wave one) and 845 (wave two), with 664 and 743 respectively not responding, giving a response rate of 57% for wave one and 53,2% for wave two. Full results are available on request.
About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) - The International Fund for Animal Welfare is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we're up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org