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Does Iceland Still Whale?


Iceland does still practice whaling, though its days may be numbered.

Due to low market demand, expanded supply from whaling in Japan, and the COVID-19 pandemic, no whaling took place in Iceland from 2019 to 2021.

Hvalur hf., the only remaining company licensed to whale commercially in Iceland, did recommence whaling in 2022. Its license to whale is valid through 2023, but it is unclear whether it will be renewed after this date.

Minister of Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir has raised the possibility of stopping whaling in Iceland, and has suggested new measures to ensure that the whaling industry abides by animal welfare regulations. Among her recommendations are drone monitoring and the presence of animal welfare officers aboard whaling vessels. Citing marginal economic benefit and harm to Iceland’s international image, the minister stated in an editorial last year that she saw little reason to renew the license.

Hvalur hf. has been embroiled in controversy in the past for failing to report its ship logs for the 2014, 2015, and 2018 seasons. In line with the minister’s recommendation, a government working group has been commissioned to assess the economic and social impacts of whaling in Iceland.

While Iceland does as of now practice whaling, 2023 may indeed be the last year whaling boats depart from its shores.





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