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Whale Hunting Has Returned To Iceland

Whale Hunting Has Returned To Iceland

Two whaling ships left Reykjavík this month for the first commercial whaling in four years

Iceland's last remaining whaling company has resumed its hunt after a four-year hiatus.

Kristjan Loftsson, CEO of the company Hvalur hf., claimed the whales were 'waiting' for them as he confirmed the plans to go out to sea this summer.

No commercial whaling has taken place in Iceland since 2018, but on 22 June, two whaling ships owned by Hvalur hf. set off from Reykjavík harbour to begin the hunt. Days later, conservation organisation Marine Connection said the company had already killed two whales.

It comes as Iceland continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, when its tourism trade took a hit due to bans on international travel. However, Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, the executive director of the Icelandic Tourist Board, noted the return of whaling could have an impact on the industry.

Speaking to CNN Travel, Jóhannes said: "It is actually well known and widely reported that the tourism industry believes that whaling hurts Iceland's image as a tourism destination. All you need do is look at how whaling is reported on in the foreign press.

"It is often reported in larger publications with heated coverage. In the tourism industry, both in private companies and in public polls; in letters, phone calls, and in other communications, whaling has a very precise effect, and tourism companies feel it the moment whaling enters the discussion again."

Quotas for whaling include fin whales and minke whales.

The whaling licence owned by Hvalur hf. is set to expire next year, at which point Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, has indicated the practice may be discontinued in Iceland.

Writing in the Morgunbladid newspaper, the minister wrote: "There are few justifications to authorise the whale hunt beyond 2024. There is little proof that there is any economic advantage to this activity.”

Asberg Jónsson, CEO of Reykjavík travel services company Travel Connect, made clear there is little support for whaling in the country as they commented: "The tourism industry and most Icelandic citizens are against whaling. It's saddening and frustrating to hear that this company, Hvalur, intends to resume killing these animals in Iceland."

"It is very damaging to our country's reputation. This, in turn, has repercussions for our export and tourism industries," Jónsson continued.

According to Iceland Review, the whale hunting quota issued by Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute for this season is 161 fin whales and 217 minke whales, with the figures based on appraisals from the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission and the International Whaling Commission.

Svandís has said the government will carry out an assessment on the potential economic and social impact of whaling this year.

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Animal Cruelty, Animals, World News