Iceland finally pulls the plug on its internationally condemned minke whale hunts

Iceland’s internationally condemned minke whale hunting industry has shut down, citing rising costs..

harpoon iceland

Just six whales were slaughtered in June and none in July, traditionally the peak time for hunting.

Iceland operates in open defiance of an international ban on commercial whaling which was imposed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986.

Since resuming whaling in 2003, the Icelandic Government has permitted hunters to kill more than 700 endangered fin whales (whose meat is mainly exported to Japan) and 630 minke whales.

Minke whale (c) NOAA

Minke whale (c) NOAA

Recent years have seen a significant drop in the number of minke whales killed, down to just 17 in 2016.

Gunnar Jonsson, head of whaling company IP-Utgerd Ltd, confirmed at the weekend to Agence France-Presse that hunting has stopped.

And he told Morgunbladid newspaper: “We need to go much farther from the coast than before, so we need more staff, which increases costs.”

Clare Perry, our Oceans Campaigns Leader, stated: “This is extremely good news for minke whales and for international governance – and it’s a timely reminder that the archaic and brutal practice of commercial whaling belongs to the history books.

“The end of the minke hunts now leaves Iceland’s rogue multi-millionaire whaler Kristján Loftsson more isolated than ever and we strongly urge the Government of Iceland to step in and shut down his indefensible operation before it selfishly trashes the country’s reputation further.”

Loftsson and his firm Hvalur returned to hunting endangered fin whales this summer after staying ashore for two seasons, citing ongoing difficulties with Japanese customs on imports of his whale products.

His latest hunt sparked international controversy earlier this month when it killed and landed what appeared to be a rare, protected blue whale. Subsequent analysis showed the creature was an extremely rare blue/fin hybrid.