Statement on whaling in Iceland

Author // Sally Hamilton Categories // Whale & Dolphin General News

Statement on whaling in Iceland
Rare hybrid blue whale-fin whale killed by Icelandic whalers in 2018 Credit: Arne Feuerhahn

ORCA has issued the following statement in response to the news that Iceland will continue whaling until 2023.

The announcement that the slaughter of fin and minke whales by Icelandic ships is to continue until 2023 is a crime against nature, and at odds with the sophisticated and metropolitan image Iceland portrays to the rest of the world. The fact that the Icelandic government has decided to embrace a cruel and barbaric past, a past that other civilised nations have long since abandoned, is as baffling as it is tragic.

Minke whaling proved so commercially unsustainable in 2018 that the hunt was suspended after just six of a quota of 262 whales were caught. Meanwhile, the only Icelandic company killing endangered fin whales slaughtered 144 animals in 2018, including a rare blue whale-fin whale hybrid.

Even more astounding is the fact that research commissioned by the Icelandic government itself shows that whale watching generated more than twice the economic impact of the whaling industry in 2017. The numbers show there are far more opportunities for companies who embrace watching as opposed to whaling, and arguments to the contrary are little more than poor excuses justifying unimaginably cruel deaths.

This decision is a savage blow to animals still recovering from decades of industrial exploitation, with fin whale populations globally estimated to be just one fifth of their pre-whaling size. Whales play a vital role in preserving the biodiversity of the ocean, so this will have impacts far beyond those animals that will die.

The Icelandic Prime Minister’s own party claims they advocate a strong anti-whaling platform, but this decision highlights that their position is little more than empty rhetoric. The Left-Green Movement has taken the coward’s way out, betraying both their founding principles and the people who voted for them by bowing to pressure from a handful of Icelandic citizens who live in the past. If these so-called champions of the environment will sanction the slaughter of whales, who is prepared to protect them?

ORCA study the same whales that will now be butchered and we know how evocative, inspiring and majestic they truly are. Katrín Jakobsdóttir must show that she has the courage of her convictions by consigning this brutal and cruel practice to the past where it belongs.

Sally Hamilton, ORCA Director