Iceland Will Not Be Hunting Whales in 2020


May 6, 2020


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For the second year in a row, Iceland will not carry out the practice of hunting whales, or whaling. Plus, one of Iceland’s two major whaling companies is ceasing operations forever.

“I’m never going to hunt whales again, I’m stopping for good,” Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, the managing director of company IP-Utgerd said, according to The Jakarta Post. Utgerd specialized in the hunting of minke whales, which has now ceased. However, the other major company, Hvalur, specializing in hunting fin whales, will not be whaling this year due to a combination of lockdown constraints and economic troubles.

Though humans have hunted whale meat and blubber on a smaller scale since the beginning of civilization, the industrialization of whaling is particularly harmful, leading to overfishing, and a disturbance in the equilibrium of the underwater ecosystem. While the International Whaling Commission had placed a pause on the hunting of whales in 1986, countries like Iceland, Norway, and Japan have continued to struggle with this moratorium.

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This is mainly because the consumption of whale meat and blubber satisfied protein needs, and was woven into these countries’ culture and history. However, according to a 2016 survey by Whale and Dolphin Conservation, whale meat is not a popular Icelandic dish, and accounts for only 1.5% of what the country’s population buys, making it easier to phase out large-scale whaling. Though the temporary cessation of whaling in Iceland is a net positive, it is still an accidental positive due to the inconveniences caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This points to a need for more conservation-focused legislation by countries still engaged in whaling, with potential tight economic sanctions and taxes, in order to protect the delicate sea and ocean ecosystem.

The fight against whaling isn’t over, according to what Humane Society International’s Kitty Block wrote. According to the animal rights advocacy organization’s CEO, “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.”


Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.


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