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Iceland whaling Hvalur hf
Photo: Golli. A whale at Hvalur hf.’s whaling station in 2015.

Icelandic Company Plans to Recommence Whaling This Summer

Whaling company Hvalur hf. plans to recommence hunting whales this summer, after three years of no activity, Vísir reports. The company’s CEO Kristján Loftsson says fin whales will be the target and that market conditions for whale products are good. No whaling has taken place in Iceland since 2018, and the Minister of Fisheries has indicated the practice will be permanently stopped after 2023.

Hvalur hf. plans to begin hunting in June and continue into September, according to Kristján. Some 150 employees are expected to staff the company’s whaling ships, whaling station in Hvalfjörður, West Iceland, and their processing plant in Hafnarfjörður. Kristján stated that the main reason for the company’s lack of activity in recent years is conflict with the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority concerning the company’s whaling station. He has previously cited poor market conditions and COVID-19 for the decision.

Whaling could be illegal in Iceland from 2023

Whaling licences in Iceland are issued for periods of a few years at a time. In a column published in Morgunblaðið last month, Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir stated that there was little justification to permit whaling in Iceland after the current licence expires in 2023. There is little evidence that whaling is economically beneficial to Iceland, the Minister stated, adding that the controversial nature of the practice has a negative impact on Iceland, though it may be hard to measure.

Hvalur hf. is Iceland’s main whaling company, and has been embroiled in several controversies in recent years. Public outcries followed when the company killed a pregnant fin whale and a rare hybrid whale in 2018. Hvalur hf. was at risk of losing their whaling licence after failing to submit captains’ logs for the 2014, 2015, and 2018 seasons. The company has been sued by three of its shareholders as well as by activists.

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