After ministers agreed to a quota of 40 minke whales (whalers asked to kill 100), the whale hunt in Iceland has begun in earnest. There is no quota for fin whales, which is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. This is the third whale hunting season in Iceland since the nation resumed commercial whaling in 2006.
In the North Atlantic, there are a little over 100,000 minke whales and 40,000 fin whales left. Minke whales can live up to 60 years. Fin whales have been known to live to almost 100 years.
"We are extremely saddened and disappointed that Iceland plans to press ahead with plans to kill so many whales, including an endangered species -- fin whales -- which traditionally Icelanders have not even eaten," said UK Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Robbie Marsland in an official statement. "This is a backward step for conservation."
Conservationists have also suggested that the decision to move forward with the whale hunt will damage Iceland's reputation and its flagging financial situation. Relative to the size of its economy, Iceland's massive banking collapse was the biggest of any country during the global turndown.
Marsland suggested that the increased interest in whale watching would help Iceland's economy -- that is, if there are whales to watch.
"Endangered species have never recovered from large-scaling commercial whaling in the past and whales are also a valuable resource worth far more alive than dead," Marsland said. "We urge the Icelandic government to stop whaling now."
According to the Iceland Tourist Board, more than 500,000 people visited the country last year. A fifth of them went whale watching.
Listening to whale songs instead of silencing them? Now there's an idea that sounds beautiful indeed.
- Sign the Greenpeace letter to Iceland's prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir urging her to cancel Iceland's five-year commercial whaling quota and ensure that Iceland's representative at this year's International Whaling Commission meeting votes for whale conservation
- Sign a Care2 petition urging Iceland's minister of fisheries Jon Bjarnason, Minister of Fisheries to reduce this year's whale hunt quotas immediately – and to ban whaling forever
- Sign the Whale's Revenge petition urging the International Whaling Commission to close the loophole that allows whaling in the name of so-called "scientific research"
- Volunteer with Sea Shepherd
- Illegal Whale Meat Still on Japanese Menus (April 14, 2009)
- Bloody Waters in the Faroe Islands (February 19 , 2009)
- Gray Whales, Meet Big Oil (November 22, 2008)
- Palin Rebuffed As Unique Alaskan Whales Score Major Victory (October 18, 2008)
- Whales Get New Sanctuary in Chile (September 30, 2008)
- First-Ever Whale Songs Heard in New York Waters (September 20, 2008)
- Greenland's Request to Kill Humpback Whales Denied (July 1, 2008)
- Greenpeace Activists Jailed in Tokyo (June 22, 2008)
- US Condemns Iceland's Whale Hunt (May 26, 2008)