Iceland opts out of whale hunting for the first time in 17 years

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Commercial whaling in Iceland will not take place this year after the only company certified to hunt whales did not renew it’s license on time.

Hvalur hf, operating since 1948, will not be hunting the minke whale or the endangered fin whale for the rest of the year, according to the Reykjavik Grapevine.

The company typically exports most of it’s whale meat to Japan, and have cited a decreasing appetite for whale meat as the reason for giving the whale hunting a miss this year.

It’s been quite a while since Iceland went without a commercial hunt – as far back as 2003, when they limited hunting to “scientific research” only. Commercial whale hunting was then allowed again three years later.

Gunnar Bergmann Jónsson, the CEO of whaling company IP Útgerð, has said that they will shift their focus to sea cucumber instead, and import whale meat from Norway to satisfy the little demand that is left.

He predicted his company would resume minke whale hunting in spring 2020.

Efforts to put a stop to commercial whale hunting has increased over the last few decades. For example, in 1982 The International Whaling Commission (IWC) announced an international moratorium on whale hunting, which was in effect by 1986. This did not result in a complete ban however, with several countries granted scientific permits for killing whales, including Japan, Iceland and Norway.

The ban also still permits aboriginal cultures to hunt whales as part of their traditional culture.