A blow for whale welfare: Iceland resumes whaling

A fin whale killed by Icelandic whalers in 2006 being towed to shore

A fin whale killed by Icelandic whalers in 2006 being towed to shore

WSPA is disappointed to report that the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries has made a retrograde step for animal welfare by issuing a commercial whaling quota for 40 minke whales in 2008.

In 2007 the Icelandic Fisheries Minister said that demand for whale meat was so low that they would not renew their quota. This move was greeted with enthusiasm from animal welfare and conservation groups worldwide.

However, in cruel hunts due to start today, forty minke whales will be targeted using explosive harpoons that often fail to kill the whale straight away, resulting in intense suffering which can last over an hour.

In comparison to Norway and Japan’s hunts, Iceland’s quota is small. But WSPA believes that all whaling is unacceptable – whether it is one whale being killed or one thousand – for the simple reason that there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea.

Whales, not whaling

In recent years Iceland has seen the benefits of a growing whale watching industry, an activity which is far more sustainable and economically beneficial than whaling. The killing of these whales poses a threat to the reputation of a country which is trying to develop itself as a leader in ecotourism.

Iceland’s own Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the damage this decision could do to Iceland’s international reputation and already fragile economy. Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir has been quoted as saying, "As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I believe this is sacrificing long term interests for short term gains, despite the quota being smaller than in previous years."

WSPA urges the Icelandic Government to rethink this decision and focus on further developing their already profitable whale watching industry rather than hunting these fascinating creatures.

This is the message WSPA will be taking to all whaling nations at the 60th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in June 2008.

Read more about WSPA’s campaign to end whaling >>

Read more about responsible whale watching >>

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