Whaling in Iceland imminent despite new evidence of public concern

June 18, 2022

Once again, the harpoons have been re-sharpened and the harpoon canons have been cleaned, checked and prepared for action. The Icelandic whaling fleet is now poised to start killing the second largest animal that the planet has ever seen, the magnificent fin whale, in a hunt that meets no pressing human needs and which is, quite rightly, decried across the world. Even the Icelandic fisheries minister earlier this year slated it as something that is uneconomic and we hoped that this statement had heralded the beginning of its end. Yet the grim determination of the few that are involved with this is unabashed, and they insist upon plying this bloody trade once again.

In the last 10 years, Iceland has killed 720 fin whales and 328 minke whales. However, there is a significant change of attitude to the hunt in the island nation as shown by a poll recently conducted by Maskína for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. This shows that nearly two-thirds of the Icelandic people surveyed believe that whaling damages Iceland’s reputation with support for whaling divided along gender and age lines. Women are far less supportive than men (17% in favour versus 48%) and older people tend to be more supportive. Additionally, 35% of Icelanders now oppose fin whaling, while 33.2% are in favour. In 2013, similar polling found 17.1% opposed fin whaling and 56.9% favoured it.

Furthermore, Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, executive director of the Icelandic Tourist Board, is quoted as saying «Every time we go out hunting these incredible creatures, it ruins [it] for those who are selling the experience of watching whales and damages [our] reputation.» He believes whaling seriously damages Iceland’s tourism industry.

Despite these words, Iceland’s whaling continues in defiance of the moratorium on whaling agreed by the relevant international body, the International Whaling Commission, in 1982. OceanCare finds this a totally unacceptable way to make money in the 21st century and we hope that common sense will soon prevail in this island nation and that the whales will soon be spared the harpoon.


International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW):