After four years, Iceland’s last whaling company will resume whale hunting this summer. The people of Iceland and the Icelandic Tourist Board are unhappy about this. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism in Iceland has slowed down. Tourism officials hope that this year, tourism will be at the point it once was in 2017. Whale hunting will undoubtedly bring on the backlash from tourists that Iceland does not want.
It’s been four years since Iceland’s whaling company Hvalur sent its vessel on a hunt. In 2018, the company killed 146 whales during the June to September season. While the company employs many workers for their boat and processing facility, it isn’t enough for the Icelandic people. Some people argue that hunting whales are part of Iceland’s culture; others see it as barbaric and a tourist deterrent.
Many people believe that whale hunting is not financially viable for Iceland. In 2017, the Hvalur whaling company made 1.7 billion Icelandic krona. Their whales bring very little to the economy and there isn’t a demand for whale meat and products. In the same year, whale watching tours brought in 3.2 billion krona. Whale watching brings in more profits and can be done year-round.
The whaling company Hvalur might be enjoying its last year of hunting. Whether they want to use their license this summer is up to them. The right to hunt whales expires in 2023. Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture still has to determine if they will continue or stop issuing whaling licenses, starting from 2024.
In the last three years since the pandemic, only one Minke whale was caught. Why after all these years does a company want to return to hunting whales? If Iceland wants to continue to improve their tourism to the island, they need to stop issuing whale hunting licenses.