Iceland & Japan’s Decision To Resume Commercial Whaling Sparks Global Outrage

Photo by: Hard To Port / Fin whale from 2022, killed with four harpoons. 

Animal advocates around the world are outraged by the announcement that Iceland’s Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries Minister, Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, will renew a one-year commercial whaling license for the company Hvalur hf., despite clear evidence of immense suffering of whales at the hands of the company.

The renewed license is valid for the entire 2024 whale hunting season, permitting the slaughter of 99 whales in the Greenland/West Iceland region and 29 whales in the East Iceland/Faroe Islands region, totaling 128 whales.

“While this is such disappointing news, it could have been so much worse because the minister could have granted a permit for whaling to continue for another five or even ten years. Instead, she granted it for one year, which at least limits the horrendous damage to some extent. In making the announcement, the minister said it goes against her personal views, but she felt that legally she had no choice. Regardless, up to 128 whales could pay the ultimate price with their lives, and that is a tragedy,” Wendy Higgins, director of international media for Humane Society International, told WAN.

Horrifically, following the recommendations of a pro-whaling committee, Japan’s Fisheries Agency has announced that the whaling company Kyodo Senpaku of Tokyo will be permitted to kill up to 59 fin whales in the North Pacific this year. This is in addition to the existing annual quotas of 25 sei whales, 150 Bryde’s whales, and 142 minke whales.

“The decision to allow the killing of fin whales is a welfare and conservation disaster, with serious diplomatic and legal implications for Japan,” said Sue Fisher, senior policy advisor for the Marine Wildlife Program at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). “It perpetuates a vicious economic cycle that Japan needs to break: Kyodo Senpaku can’t sell the whale meat it already has. Nevertheless, the company keeps asking the government for higher quotas and more financial support in hopes that miraculously rebounding meat sales will offset its mounting debts.”

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority published a report last year revealing that some whales killed in Icelandic hunts had taken up to two hours to die, with 41% of whales suffering immensely before dying for an average of 11.5 minutes. Such suffering was deemed in contravention of the country’s Animal Welfare Act per the Icelandic Veterinary Authority.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) imposed a global moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. Iceland left the IWC in 1992, but rejoined in 2002, with an exemption to the moratorium, despite international objections. Since rejoining, Iceland has killed over 1,500 whales, including fin whales.

Iceland paused the hunting of fin whales in 2016 due to a declining market in Japan, but resumed in 2018, killing 146 fin whales, including one that was pregnant, and a rare hybrid, plus six minke whales. Between 2019 and 2021, one minke whale was killed, and in 2022, 148 fin whales were killed.

Fin whales are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as globally vulnerable to extinction despite decades of recovery since the commercial whaling moratorium.

We must continue to put pressure on the government’s of Iceland and Japan to ban whaling once and for all.

Please take action today by signing Hvalavinir Hreyfingin’s petition urging the Icelandic Government to ban whaling, HERE!

You can also urge the Japanese Government to ban whaling by signing the petition, HERE! 

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

More on this topic

Popular stories

WAN Exclusive With Indraloka Animal Sanctuary About Their Five New Rescued Alpacas & Donations Needed To Help Them!

Photos from Indraloka Animal Sanctuary. Image above is of two of five recently rescued alpacas. As one month ends and another begins, times are bittersweet...

Anti-Wildlife Politicians Attack Protections Of The Endangered Species Act At The 50th Committee Hearing

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held a hearing stacked with anti-wildlife politicians...

Humane Society of Missouri Rescues 43 Starving Dogs & Recovers 9 Dead From A Former Commercial Breeder

Photos by: Humane Society of Missouri Acting on a request from the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, the Humane Society of Missouri's (HSMO) Animal Cruelty Task...