Iceland: The controversial annual whale hunt is likely to come to an end when Iceland stops it

Iceland: The controversial annual whale hunt is likely to come to an end when Iceland stops it

By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria

Due to concerns about animal welfare, the Icelandic government has announced that the whale hunt for this year will be postponed until the end of August, likely ending the contentious practice.

The Humane Society International hailed the decision as “a major milestone in compassionate whale conservation,” and environmentalists and animal rights advocates applauded it.

After a government-commissioned report found that the hunt violates Iceland’s Animal Welfare Act, food minister Svandis Svavarsdottir issued a statement stating, “I have taken the decision to suspend whaling” until August 31.

Based on the main goals of the Animal Welfare Act, recent monitoring by Iceland’s Food and Veterinary Authority revealed that the fin whale hunt took too long to kill the animals.

The veterinary authority showed the agony of a whale being hunted for five hours in shocking video clips.

“These activities do not have a future if the government and licensees cannot guarantee welfare requirements,” the minister stated.

Hvalur, the country’s last whaling company, will lose its license to hunt fin whales in 2023. In 2020, another business ceased operations completely, claiming it was no longer profitable.

The whaling season in Iceland runs from mid-June to mid-September, so Hvalur probably wouldn’t go out to sea that late in the season.

209 fin whales, the second-longest marine mammal after the blue whale, and 217 minke whales, one of the smallest species, can be killed annually under quotas. However, a shrinking market for whale meat has led to a significant decline in catch rates over the past few years.

Despite severe criticism from environmentalists and advocates for animal rights, the only countries in the world that have continued whale hunting are Japan, Iceland, and Norway.

Ruud Tombrock, executive director for Europe for Humane Society International, stated, “There is no humane way to kill a whale at sea, so we urge the minister to make this a permanent ban.”

“Ending cruel commercial whaling is the only ethical conclusion because whales already face so many serious threats in the oceans from pollution, climate change, entanglement in fish nets, and ship strikes.”

The decision, according to Sea Shepherd UK director Robert Read, was also “a huge blow” to other nations that whaled.

“Whaling cannot be done in a humane way anywhere if it cannot be done here.”

“Whales are draftsmen for the sea. By influencing the carbon cycling process, they aid in the conservation of biodiversity and the fight against climate change,” he added.

In Iceland, opposition to whaling has increased, with the majority now favoring its elimination.

According to a survey that was released at the beginning of June, 51% of Icelanders opposed the hunt and 29% supported it, with people over 60 supporting it most.

For centuries, Iceland has been heavily dependent on whaling and fishing.

However, its tourism industry, including whale watching tours, has flourished over the past two decades, and the two primary economic sectors have divergent interests.

After a three-decade hiatus, commercial whaling was resumed in Japan in 2019, significantly reducing the requirement for Icelandic imports. Japan is by far the largest market for whale meat.

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