Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

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Chiefly tourists, not Icelanders, sustaining hunting of mink whales in Icelandic waters

By Staff

  • Back for good? One of whaling company Hvalur's vessels. The company's boats stayed in harbour in the summer of 2016. Photo/Pjetur Sigurðsson

According to a new Gallup opinion poll, a huge majority of Icelanders don’t buy whale meat. When asked: “Have you bought whale meat in the last twelve months?”, 81% answered no. Only 1.5% said that they had bought whale meat six times or more in the last twelve months.

The poll was conducted in October for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Iceland Nature Conservation Association (INCA).

Read more: Whaling is not an Icelandic tradition

According to Sigursteinn Másson, the representative of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Iceland, more than half of the meat of mink whales hunted in Icelandic waters is sold in restaurants, mostly in Reykjavík, and consumed by foreign travellers. Thereby, he says, they are sustaining hunting that would not exist without them. He encourages visitors to enjoy whales alive by going whale watching instead of eating them.

We at Iceland Magazine second Sigurstein’s message.

Between 20 and 30 mink whales are hunted annually. Mink whales are not an endangered species.

Read more: From the editor: In China they eat dogs

No fin whales were caught in Icelandic waters during the summer of 2016 but 155 animals were caught in 2015. There is no market for fin whale meat in Iceland. Hvalur, the only company that hunts fin whales in Iceland, has exported the meat to Japan. However there seems to be no demand there either.

As we reported earlier this year Hvalur’s CEO, Kristján Loftsson, said that his firm would never have re-entered the whaling industry in 2009 after a 20 year hiatus, had they realized how difficult it would be to sell the products in Japan.

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