For the second year in a row, Kristján Loftsson, CEO of the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur, stated that there will likely be no commercial fin whale hunt this summer. For the past several years, AWI, in conjunction with the Don’t Buy from Icelandic Whalers Coalition, has encouraged seafood companies to refrain from buying products from suppliers tied to Hvalur. In March, the coalition received word that another company is supporting the campaign: One Source Proteins wrote that it has discontinued its purchase of Hvalur-linked products, does not support any commercial whaling or trade in whale products, and would now require suppliers not to engage in such activities.
Unfortunately, minke whaling will take place this year, with two vessels sharing a quota of more than 200 animals. The quota is issued by the Icelandic government, and is not approved by the International Whaling Commission (IWC)—thus, the quota undermines the effectiveness of the IWC’s commercial whaling moratorium. In March, Iceland’s fisheries minister indicated to the nation’s parliament that it cannot provide data on times to death in the minke whale hunt, a serious failure to ensure that animal welfare concerns are being addressed.
Iceland’s whale-watch industry continues to thrive, however, with more than 354,000 people participating in whale-watch trips in 2016. Hopefully, as this business grows, it will eventually prove to the Icelandic government that responsible whale watching is far more important for Iceland’s economy and image than whaling.