The government of Iceland has authorised the hunting of more than 100 fin whales, despite a temporary suspension last year due to recognition of the cruelty of whale hunting by a government-commissioned report. Following Japan, Iceland is the second country in the world to allow fin whaling to resume this year.

Hvalur, the Icelandic company run by Kristján Loftsson, the last whaler of the country, will now be allowed to kill 128 fin whales over this year’s hunting season. The hunting of the Common Minke Whale ceased in Iceland in 2020 after a coastal sanctuary was established (so it was no longer profitable to hunt these whales further into the ocean). Loftsson continues hunting fin whales not because there is a national demand for whale meat, but because he can sell it to Japan. 

Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Iceland’s food, fisheries and agriculture minister, said her decision to grant the hunting permit was not necessarily in line with her views or those of her party, the Left-Green Movement. Iceland’s previous fisheries minister suspended whaling after a report concluded that the 2022 hunt did not comply with the country’s animal welfare legislation. This is because a government-led report found that harpooned whales took as long as two hours to die.

Patrick Ramage, Senior Director of Outreach and Program Collaboration of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said to the Guardian: “It’s hard to fathom how and why this green light to kill 128 fin whales is being given. There is clearly no way to kill a whale at sea without inflicting unthinkable cruelty.”

Luke McMillan, an anti-whaling campaigner with Whale and Dolphin Conservation, said, “It is unbelievable and deeply disappointing that the Icelandic government has granted [this], defying extensive scientific and economic evidence against such actions.”

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Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.