Iceland to stop whaling

Tail of an Iceland Ocean Whale

Many whales are about to be saved. Iceland, one of three countries that engage in commercial whale hunting, may soon give it up entirely, when current quotas expire in 2024. We wish the reasons were for matters of compassion or environmental sustainability, but the reason given was that the demand for whales have declined dramatically and whaling is no longer profitable. There was also an impact on other businesses to take into account. For instance, Whole Foods stopped marketing Icelandic products when commercial whaling resumed there in 2006. Even so, Vanessa Williams-Grey from Whale and Dolphin Conservation said “This is obviously hugely welcome news.” But let’s not forget that there are two countries that are still killing whales, Norway and Japan.

Whales are mammals. They breathe air when they come up to the surface, have hair, are warm-blooded, give birth to live young, and feed their young milk. Whales are social animals. They nurture, form friendships, grieve, play, sing and cooperate with one another. The Animal Welfare Institute believes all whaling to be inherently cruel. Even the most advanced whaling methods can result in pain and distress before these sensitive and intelligent sea mammals die. The famous anthropologist Jane Goodall says, “At a time when we are already seeing the tragic and irreversible destruction of our natural world, with the sea increasingly pumped full of plastics and climate change threatening entire ecosystems, it is more important than ever to take a stand against the cruel practice of whaling.”

Now for some good news. Iceland has pivoted to profiting from whales in other ways. Other whale-related industries are now more successful in Iceland, with hundreds of thousands of whale-watchers visiting the island each year, hoping to catch a glimpse of the marine mammals. We’d much rather people watch whales than kill whales!

Whale watching