In Iceland, conservationists are condemning the two remaining whaling companies for being inhumane. Aside from the fact that these small industries allow the killing of whales in Icelandic waters, it also has minimal impact on the country’s economic growth.
These horrendous activities happened after the Icelandic government announced this week that it would allow the killing of up to 2,000 whales in the next five years. The decision was released to the public after the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture said that a maximum of 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales could be killed each year between 2018 and 2025.
Despite numerous arguments received from the Icelandic people, the country’s Fisheries Minister, Kristjan Por Juliusson, argued that the new whale quotas are sustainable and based on research from the nation’s Marine Research Institute and the University of Iceland.
“Whaling in Icelandic waters is only directed at abundant whale stocks, North Atlantic common minke whales and fin whales, it is science-based, sustainable, strictly, managed and in accordance with international law,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
However, this decision angered activists and conservationists; even the Icelandic Environmental Association criticized the research, where the Fisheries Ministry based its quotas. The killing of these whales is deemed as an unlawful and illegal activity for the country’s fishing industry.
After hearing the reports, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), an organization aimed at protecting whales around the world, disagreed to the decision. The institution pointed out that whaling is no longer beneficial to Iceland’s economy and lacks public support.
The group is saddened by the fact that this country, which is used to embrace whale watching, has focused on a different goal now. According to WDC spokesperson, Chris Butler-Stroud who told CNN, the meat coming from these whales were being consumed mostly by tourists. However, if it will be down to local consumption, there would be no limits as to how these hunters would kill for money.
Instead of whaling, people can resort to whale watching, which contributed to 13.4 million dollars to the country’s economy, while the former only provided 8.4 million dollars. As per the University of Iceland, more people are employed in whale watching than in whaling, but wages are tremendously higher in whale hunting. That is why the government pushes for this activity to happen, despite several arguments from conservationists and activists.
The same report added that “Icelanders have managed whaling in a responsible manner,” but arguments indicated that by being responsible it would mean that these hunters should know the environmental impacts of this activity and the effects it will cause on whales in the future.
The country knows that there is an international law which bans commercial whaling, but Iceland controversially continues to hunt whales with its own set of quotas. In fact, they are also a member of International Whaling Commission (IWC), and last year, Icelandic whaling company, Hvalur hf, drew worldwide condemnation when it reportedly killed a blue whale which is deemed illegal under the said law.
Japan also been criticized for breaching the same law, this time it made a loophole to allow killing of whales to be used in scientific purposes and get around with the International Whaling Commission ban.
According to the International Whaling Commission website,” the overexploitation by the whaling industry led to serious declines in many of the world’s population of whales, many are in the process of recovering but not all.”
Whale and Dolphin Conservation in Iceland still stands for its claim that whale hunting is inhumane and Icelandic government should know that any forms of killing is prohibited regardless of its justification. The group will continue its call to stop the killing of whales for commercial purposes together with activists and conservationists.