Iceland will skip whaling this year: company

Reykjavik (AFP) –


No whales will be harpooned off the waters around Iceland this year, as the island nation's two whaling companies have decided to abandon the summer whaling season for the first time in 17 years.

After considering whaling with only one boat in late June or early July, IP-Utgerd, which specialises in hunting minke whales, announced Thursday it would abandon the summer season altogether.

Due to an extension of a no-fishing coastal zone, the boats would "have to go further offshore to hunt minke whales," making it more expensive, the company's general manager Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson told AFP, adding that the company would instead focus on sea cucumbers.

Iceland's only other whaling company Hvalur, which hunts larger fin whales, announced in early June that it was giving up on the 2019 season due to a lack of time to prepare its fleet.

According to local press reports, hunting permits, issued by the Icelandic government, came late this year.

Kristjan Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur, also pointed to difficulties in selling whale meat on the Japanese market, according to Icelandic broadcaster RUV.

The 2019 season will be the first time since 2002 that no whales will be harpooned in Iceland's waters, after the country decided to resume whaling in 2003 in opposition to the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) 1986 moratorium.

In 2018, 145 fin whales and six minke whales were harpooned.

Icelandic authorities have set the annual quota for fin whales at 209 and for Minke whales at 217 until 2023.