Iceland cancels whale hunt

The government of Iceland announced last week that it is calling off its controversial whale hunt, not because of political pressure, but due to the lack of demand for whale meat and other whale products.

In 2006, the Icelandic government stated it would no longer respect an international ban on commercial whaling; it issued permits for the commercial hunting of nine endangered fin whales and 30 minke whales. (Seven minke whales and seven fin whales have been killed so far this year, as one lonely cash register kachinged in the distance.)

But economic studies commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which campaigns to protect the world’s whales, found little demand for the meat. Strikingly, Iceland’s burgeoning whale-watching industry generates more than $20 million in revenue each year.

Now on what essentially is a whale-hunting “break,” Iceland says that it will not issue whale-hunting quotas until market demand increases or it manages to get its tenterhooks on a license to export whale products to Japan, one of the largest markets for whale meat (aka The Jackpot).

“This is fantastic news for whales and for Iceland,” says IFAW’s Robbie Marsland, albeit prematurely. “Whaling is cruel and unnecessary, and all of our studies have also shown there is little appetite for whale meat in Iceland or internationally. We hope that Iceland’s successful whale-watching industry will continue to grow without the country’s image being further tarnished by whaling.”