Iceland, volcanically active island, land of lava fields and glacial lakes, attracts tourists for north sailing with whale watching tours. Eight species of whales live in Icelandic waters. Two types of them, fin whales and minke whales, are harpooned for their meat, mainly due to tourists who find that more popular than the local inhabitants.

The Whale Hunting History

Whaling has a thousand-year tradition. It is also one of the traditional ways of obtaining the livelihoods of some nations and, in a way, part of their cultural heritage. But some organizations question this and try to fight it.

Between 1900 and 1999, people caught nearly 3 million whales. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) placed a ban on commercial whaling.

Icelandic whalers were allowed to catch 250 whales by the end of 2009, six times more than in the years before.

The Present Situation

Despite being a member of the IWC, Iceland has continued to hunt whales with its own quotas. Japan also does not respect the international whaling moratorium issued by IWC in 1986. Japan claims to hunt whales for scientific purposes to avoid the International Whaling Commission ban. It is believed that most of the meat from these hunts will end up in Japanese restaurants, where whale meat is highly valued.

In February 2019, Icelandic authorities announced their plan to kill more than 2,000 whales over a five-year period. Every year until the year 2023, whalers will be allowed to harpoon 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales in Icelandic waters.

Minister for Fisheries, Kristjan Thor Juliusson, argues that Recent Scientific Research states that during the last census in 2015, their population in the central North Atlantic was estimated at 37,000, which is three times more than in 1987.

Some governments have expressed disapproval, namely Americans, Germans, British, French, Dutch, Finns and Swedes. They sent a letter to Reykjavik to cancel the quota increase verdict already in 2009. Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) says that the Icelandic government completely ignores loud international protests. Because the global demand for whale meat is declining, the trade is considered to be inhumane.