Tag Archives: Iceland

How Can Iceland be so Cru-whale to Harmless Creatures?

A minke whale being slaughtered on a whaling vessel in Iceland
A minke whale being slaughtered on a whaling vessel in Iceland

When people hear the word “whaling,” they normally think of Japan. Japan claims to kill whales for “scientific research,” even though vessels that are killing the whales suddenly become anxious and secretive when a camera crew rolls around?  Well, Japan may be in the limelight most of the time, but Iceland is just as bad as Japan, maybe even worse.  Here’s why.

Whaling in Iceland isn’t a big industry.  A man named Kristjan Loftsson owns the only company that kills whales.  Now, this may not be that bad, right?  Only one company?  Well, here’s the thing.  In Iceland, they kill two different types of whales, the solitary minke whale and the endangered fin whale.  Minke whale meat is mainly appealing to tourists, who are trying the “Icelandic cuisine” that they don’t really eat.  Fin whale meat, however, is unappetizing in Iceland, and it gets shipped off to Japan, where it’s not even that big, either.

Kristjan Loftsson, Icelandic fishing magnate, holds a box of frozen whale meat during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Hvalfjordur whaling station in Hvalfjordur, Iceland, on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015. Iceland is one of the last pro-whaling countries, for historical reasons (in Icelandic "stranded whale" means "great luck"), and, thanks to a long-standing, stubborn determination not to be lectured to by the outside world. Photographer: Arnaldur Halldorsson/Bloomberg
Kristjan Loftsson, Icelandic fishing magnate, holds a box of frozen whale meat during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Hvalfjordur whaling station in Hvalfjordur, Iceland, on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015. Iceland is one of the last pro-whaling countries, for historical reasons (in Icelandic “stranded whale” means “great luck”), and, thanks to a long-standing, stubborn determination not to be lectured to by the outside world. Photographer: Arnaldur Halldorsson/Bloomberg

Here are some numbers from the past years regarding Icelandic whaling up to 2015.  The numbers have increased in the past decade.  What is even more disconcerting is that the number of minke whales that are being hunted is significantly less than the number of fin whales, despite the fact that Icelanders actually personally use minke whales.

The number of minke whales killed from 1987 to 2015.
The number of minke whales killed from 1987 to 2015.  From Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
The number of fin whales killed from 1987 to 2015.
The number of fin whales killed from 1987 to 2015.  From Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
The total number of whales (minke and fin) killed from 1987 to 2015.
The total number of whales (minke and fin) killed from 1987 to 2015.  From Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

The past two years, whaling trips targeting fin whales have been cancelled because of a lack of demand in Japan.  Minke whales, however, are still being hunted.  

So how is it that the Icelandic people are able to hunt whales, despite the fact that it is illegal everywhere else?  They’ve found a loophole in the deal with the International Whaling Commission (IWC), where they could continue “scientific whaling,” up until 1992 when they left the IWC.  They rejoined in 2002, and established a “quota” they they must reach/cannot go over for each year.  They say that it is an important part of their culture, and that their economy would not do well if they stopped whaling.  This is not true whatsoever, because they barely gain any profit from trade with Japan, which is what Iceland says is where some of their income comes from.
So why do they continue whaling?  That is the question we all must ask, because the senseless slaughter of innocent creatures is not condoned by anyone, except maybe the “scientific” community.