Iceland says no to yearly fin whale hunt

Should whaling stop for good? Iceland’s government has cancelled its whale hunting season, saying it goes against animal welfare laws.

There she blows! A column of spume rises up out of the ocean. Then a tail slaps the surface. The fin whale bursts out, breathing in.

These majestic mammals will be able to breathe a little easier this year, because Iceland has announced that it will not be hunting them.

Iceland’s minister for Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Svandis Svavarsdottir has said that hunting the whales is incompatible with the country’s animal welfare laws.

The fin whale is the world’s second largest animal, after the blue whale. They can grow to be 25 metres long. That’s more than twice the length of a London bus.

Whalers hunt them for their meat and the oil that can be made from their blubber. In the 20th century, humans killed more than 700,000 fin whales. By that point, there were only 38,000 left.

Because whales were on the precipice of extinction, in 1982, the International Whaling Commission banned all commercial whaling.

But some countries, including Japan, Norway, and Iceland, have carried on hunting whales. Iceland only has one company left with a licence to hunt whales. 2023 is the last year of its licence.

Svandis Svarasdottir has not only suspended this year’s hunt, but has cast doubts on the future of the industry.

“There is little to justify allowing whaling”, she told the press last year.