Iceland may have killed its last whale; whaling company says it will hang up its harpoons for good

By on April 27, 2020 with 16 Comments

One of Iceland’s two whaling companies has announced it will stop whaling for good. This welcome decision, which comes just days after Iceland announced it will cancel all whale hunts for the second consecutive year, takes us one step closer to the demise of an inhumane industry built on immense suffering and harm for the ocean’s gentle giants.

IP Utgerd, the main minke whaling company in Iceland, told AFP news agency that it is no longer economically viable to hunt for whales in Icelandic waters, with its managing director, Gunnar Jonsson, saying “I’m never going to hunt whales again, I’m stopping for good.”

Meanwhile, the other Icelandic whaling company, Hvalur, which specializes in taking the far larger fin whales, has said it will cancel its hunt this year because of export problems and, to a lesser extent, restrictions linked to the coronavirus and social distancing requirements. Chief executive Kristjan Loftsson blamed stiff competition with Japan, the main export market for Iceland’s fin whale meat, for the decision. Loftsson said Japan’s food safety requirements were more stringent for imported meat than for meat from whales killed by Japanese whalers. Whales are especially vulnerable to environmental contaminants, which makes their meat unsafe for human consumption.

It was only last February that an Icelandic minister proudly announced new whaling quotas intended to allow the killing of more than 2,000 whales over the following five years. The sudden turnaround by Iceland indicates there are larger factors at play in the decision, including strong international censure of Iceland’s whaling. Importantly, in recent years, the industry has also faced internal scrutiny, including a growing national controversy about its cost to the country’s taxpayers and its legality.

In 2018, the last year during which Iceland’s whaling fleet was active, it killed a total of 146 fin whales and six minke whales.

The news from Iceland marks a major turning point in the battle against whaling. We are happy that the whaling companies there have realized the futility of this enterprise in the modern world. We now turn our focus to the two remaining outliers who continue to defy the global whaling moratorium, killing hundreds of whales each year: Japan and Norway. Their fleets remain active during the pandemic, even as the market for highly-subsidized whale meat is declining rapidly. It is time for these two nations to join Iceland and hang up their harpoons for good.

Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Carlos Quero Valdés says:

    Una noticia esperanzadora que nos invita a soñar con que llegará el día en que las ballenas viajen seguras por los mares del mundo, ojalá esta gran noticia sea una señal de que nuestra actitud hacia la naturaleza está comenzando a cambiar, ninguna tradición ni creencia, por más antigua que sea, puede mantenerse si pasa a llevar injustificadamente el valor sagrado de la vida, sea humana o animal, el cambio hacia una sociedad más comprensiva y empática es posible!!!!

  2. Carolyn Denton says:

    Thank you HSUS for this great news and for your perseverance in making it happen.
    Hope Japan and Norway will follow suit.

  3. Friedrich Seifert says:

    Auch die anderen Länder müssen Gezwungen Werden Die Sehr Schönen Tiere nicht zu Ermorden,

  4. Nancy says:

    Uncivilized monsters. Too late now. Shame is upon you.

  5. Angela says:

    Wonderful news regarding Iceland.
    Japan and Norway need to step up! Stop killing our precious whales! God Almighty sees everything and you will be held accountable.

  6. Jill says:

    It is made clear the motives for stopping whaling are monetary.. Not to do with the morality and cruelty involved. Hardly a cause for gushing Congratulations. Just relief

  7. Hartson Doak says:

    With Japan still polluting the Pacific with radiation from Fukushima, why is’nt the radiation contamination of the whales not mentioned?

  8. Deborah I Kurkoski says:

    Its about time. Now Japan needs to stop killing whales and dolphins. There’s no excuse for such horrendous slaughtering of our beautiful whales and dolphins. They’re such majestic incredible intelligent mammals. Should have stopped a 100 years ago. It just sickens me.

  9. Deborah I Kurkoski says:

    Yes, Norway needs to stop as well.

  10. Nydia Fe V. Mintu says:

    Shame on them. It took them the posdible extinction of whales in Iceland to stop. In short, they stopped because they are no longer making money out of it.

  11. Marisol Melgarejo says:

    At last ! About time don’t you think so!! 😠 You killed already to many , idiots !!! We need to protect wildlife Worldwide before there will be no more left !

  12. Danny McClain says:

    So many things have to be done for our oceans now or we are going to lose everything. Why can’t all remaining whaling companies realize there is so much more money to be made by the honor of seeing them, rather than killing them? Thank you for at least a little wonderful news.

  13. ANG says:

    the world should condemn all of you murdering scoundrels

  14. Sarah Webster says:

    Wonderful news. I will now consider returning to Iceland for holiday travel. The whales are worth more to them as free and respected animals if they develop a truly ethical whale watching and education.

  15. Dan Perdios says:

    Let’s see if they really stop.

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