The minke whale is one species that will be spared as Iceland has suspended its whale hunt.
Responding more to economic realities than to political pressure, the government of Iceland last week announced that it is calling off its controversial whale hunt due to lack of demand for the product. Environmentalists are cheering the decision, hoping that it signals an end to commercial whaling in the region.
Last year, the Icelandic government faced cries of consternation from around the world when it issued permits for the commercial hunting of nine endangered fin whales and 30 minke whales.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which campaigns globally to protect the world’s whales, welcomes the decision by Iceland’s fisheries ministry. Economic studies commissioned by the group there revealed very little demand for the meat. In contrast, the country’s successful whale-watching industry generates more than $20 million in revenue each year.
"This is fantastic news for whales and for Iceland," says IFAW’s Robbie Marsland. "Whaling is cruel and unnecessary, and all of our studies have also shown there is little appetite for whale meat in Iceland or internationally. We hope that Iceland’s successful whale-watching industry will continue to grow without the country’s image being further tarnished by whaling."