CAPE TOWN - The Icelandic government’s announcement that no new quotas will be issued for whaling has been hailed by animal rights activists and environmentalists.
The government publicly signalled an end to Iceland whaling with Minister for Fisheries Svandis Svavarsdottir telling media that they were evaluating social and economic impacts of the decision which she anticipates will be negligible following three years without commercial whaling in the country’s waters.
Svavarsdottir highlighted the absence of economic benefits would be the key factor in the decision not to issue government licenses for whaling when existing quota authorizations expire next year.
“This is wonderful news for Iceland, whales in its waters, and its world-class whale watching industry,” said Sharon Livermore, Director of Marine Conservation at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
“The Minister’s thoughtful framing of the situation indicates her government has taken a fresh look at its whaling policy and has come to the same conclusions as the rest of the world. This is unsustainable, unjustified and unspeakably cruel industry with no place in modern society.”
Svavarsdottir cited the lack of any Icelandic whaling for the last three years as well as the low economic importance of the activity for Iceland as reasons not to renew the whaling quota. The IFAW said Iceland had long tried to find markets for whale meat in Japan and Norway, with little success. In contrast, the negative impact of whaling on the Icelandic economy has been significant, for example the US-based Whole Foods chain halted its marketing of Icelandic products in response to continued whaling in Iceland.
“This announcement is the death knell for Icelandic whaling,” Livermore added, “This proud, stunningly beautiful country continues its migration from whaling to whale watching, harvesting leviathan benefits to its economy. We commend the Icelandic government on this very welcome move.”
More than 1 500 fin and minke whales have been killed in Iceland since 2003 – the year the country resumed commercial whaling after a 13-year hiatus.