Iceland didn't hunt any whales in 2019 – and public appetite for whale meat is fading
Posted by admin on 21st January 2020
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One of the most important global conservation events of the past year was something that didn’t happen. For the first time since 2002, Iceland – one of just three countries that still allow commercial whaling – didn’t hunt any whales, even though its government had approved whaling permits in early 2019.

Many people may think of whaling as a 19th-century industry in which men threw harpoons at their quarry by hand. But humans are still killing whales today in other ways. Thousands of whales are struck by ships, entangled in fishing lines, and harmed by ocean noise every year.

However, most nations support a commercial whaling ban that the International Whaling Commission, a global body charged with whale management, imposed in 1986 to prevent these creatures from being hunted to extinction. Iceland, Norway and Japan have long been exceptions to this international consensus.

I study marine ecology and conservation and spent the 2018-19 academic year on a Fulbright fellowship in Iceland. It is encouraging to see countries come to realize that whales are worth more alive than dead – for their spiritual value, their role in tourism, and the ecological services that they provide. As more Icelanders adopt this view, it will be good news for ocean conservation.

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