At Sustainable Sushi, we are always keeping an eye on greater sustainability efforts in our seas. With the whaling season in Iceland normally under way in the summer, it is now appears that for the third year running, no whales will be harpooned in Iceland. This has been a huge win for public awareness campaigns like Animal Welfare Institute‘s anti whaling in Iceland initiative, aptly named “Don’t Buy From Icelandic Whalers” campaign.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which also campaigns for whale security, is encouraged to see that no endangered fin whales will be butchered this year by the last remaining whaling business in Iceland.
Which company is whaling in Iceland?
Only Kristjan Loftsson and his fin whaling company, Hvalur hf, are still around. According to quota regulations, Loftsson is still enabled to kill fin whales, but has refrained from doing so since 2018. This means we may still see him going whaling next year to protect a brand-new five-year quota.”
Minke whale meat is offered in Iceland, though recently much of it was offered to curious tourists instead of citizens. The most recent survey commissioned by IFAW revealed Icelanders themselves have little appetite for whale meat with only one per cent saying they consume whale meat frequently.
In comparison to the limited domestic market for minke whale meat, fin whale meat has actually been exported to Japan considering that 2013 in a not successful attempt to develop an export market.
Whaling as an issue has disappeared from the political agenda within Iceland. The topic was an infamous theme in Icelandic election campaigns for decades, but given that 2016, it has actually reduced in prominence. Young voters are more worried about environment modification, and the favorable function living whales play in creating healthy communities in the ocean and their contributions towards co2 (CO2) absorption from the environment.
When did Iceland resume commercial whaling?
More than 1,500 fin and minke whales have actually been killed in Iceland since 2003– the year the nation resumed business whaling after a 13-year hiatus.
For several years, Icelandic whalers hunted threatened fin whales along with minke whales. Whilst the fin whale meat was exported to Japan, the majority of the minke whale meat was served to travelers.
The great news is that no whales have actually been killed since the end of the 2018 season. Minke whaling officially ended in 2020.
Between 2006 and 2018, a total of 852 fin whales were killed. This figure is even more tragic, given that the fin whale is the 2nd largest animal in the world. Each whale is special in its own right of course, however an animal this size also plays an important role in maintaining the health of the marine community. As if this was insufficient, the fin whale is noted as ‘threatened’ by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).
Iceland returned to commercial whaling in 2006 and since then has killed more than 1,000 whales. In December 2013, the government of Iceland issued a new five-year quota for fin and minke whales, under which it approved the slaughter of nearly 2,000 whales.
Iceland’s domestic market for whale products is small; it exports most of the whale meat and blubber to Japan, defying a global ban on international commercial trade in whale products.
In Europe and North America, conservation and animal protection NGOs have been encouraging the public not to buy fish from whalers, putting pressure on fish suppliers and retailers to ensure they do not source from Icelandic companies linked to whaling.
Consumer pressure helped end whaling in Iceland
Campaigns like Don’t Buy From Icelandic Whalers were very successful in getting this message out. If you buy seafood, ask your local supermarket, big-box store, wholesale club or restaurant to verify that their seafood products do not come from a source linked to Icelandic whaling.
If they cannot guarantee to you that the Icelandic seafood products are not “whaling free,” don’t buy from them until they can. Also, please write to the company’s customer service department and ask for assurances that its products are not linked to Iceland’s whale hunt.
The Don’t Buy from Icelandic Whalers Coalition has joined forces with groups in Europe and is calling on Iceland’s leading seafood export company, HB Grandi, to stop its support of commercial whaling. We have identified key companies that buy seafood from HB Grandi and its subsidiaries (see information below) and have written to ask them to ensure that they are not purchasing seafood supplied by these companies. Please, tell them that they should not support the killing of endangered fin whales, a protected and iconic species.
Andre tried sushi when he was 12 and was hooked. He studied Japanese in high school and was good enough to earn a free trip to Japan… unsurprisingly, he remembers none of it decades later! As a diving enthusiast, he has a deep appreciation for marine life and sustainability efforts.