It's official: Iceland won’t kill any whales in 2020

Louis Staples
Sunday 03 May 2020 11:15
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(iStock)

The news has been especially bleak lately.

But one area where there’s been some positive vibes is in the natural world, where nature is making strides forward because (surprise, surprise) humans aren’t getting in their way and polluting their habitat as much.

Now there’s been more good news: Iceland won’t be killing any whales in 2020.

(Better still, this news doesn’t appear to have much to do with Covid-19, so it might actually be long-term)

Iceland’s two major whaling companies have decided to cancel their summer whaling season, IFL Science reports.

IP-Utgerd has announced that it will be quitting whaling altogether, according to AFP news agency. And the nation’s largest whaling company, Hvalur hf, has put its whaling operations on hold for the second year running.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, in 2003 Iceland resumed commercial whaling and at least 1,500 fin and minke whales have been killed in Icelandic waters since then.

The move seems to have been motivated by economic pressures and a difficulty at competing with Japan. Kristján Loftsson, the CEO of Hvalur hf, blamed lockdown measures and the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the fact that Japan subsidises whale products.

Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, the general manager of IP-Utgerd, cited business costs as the reason for the move. He told AFP:

I'm never going to hunt whales again, I'm stopping for good.

Iceland, alongside Norway and Japan, has frequently broken the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 worldwide moratorium, which indefinitely "paused" commercial whaling.

The issue of hunting fin whales in particular is very controversial because of their vast size and the fact that they’re vulnerable to extinction. In 2018, Hvalur hf was accused of killing 109 fin whales, of which 14 were allegedly pregnant.

Sea Shepherd, a marine conservation activist group, said in a statement that they hope the news from Iceland will lead to a permanent end to whaling in the country. Rob Read, chief operating officer of Sea Shepherd UK:

I believe the writing is on the wall now for the world's most notorious whaler Kristjan Loftsson and his company Hvalur hf. Now is the time for Loftsson to hang up his harpoons and for Iceland to become an ethical whale watching, not whale killing nation.

It remains to be seen whether the whaling companies will return for the 2021 season, but we have to admit that we hope not.

Whale rights!

H/T: IFL Science

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