In Iceland, the two main commercial whaling companies have announced in the past few days that they will not be pursuing their activities this year. At least that is what is being reported by Icelandic media. The 2019 whaling season was also cancelled.
The company Hvalur typically hunts fin whales, a species of special concern. It will suspend its operations this year, as subsidies to Japanese whalers in that country, the most important market for whale meat, are making exports too difficult. Constraints linked to social distancing measures to stem the COVID-19 pandemic are also believed to have weighed in the balance.
Also specializing in minke whales, sometimes known as lesser rorquals, the company Utgerðarfelagið Fjörður allegedly announced that it will permanently suspend its activities. Its managing director, Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, announced to Agence France-Presse: “I will never hunt whales again, I am quitting for good.” The company’s last year of operation dates back to 2018.
Despite the 1986 International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on whaling, three countries, namely Iceland, Japan and Norway, have continued to hunt fin whales. International pressure and declining consumption of whale meat are putting a dent in the industry. Increased whale-watching activities also diminish the economic benefit of whaling.