Iceland’s Policy on Whales Promotes Toursim and Killing At the Same Time

By Sharon Seltzer

Whales are a touchy subject in Iceland.

On one hand the enormous mammals have become a beloved attraction that tourists flock to see. And on the other hand, they are cruelly hunted and slaughtered so their meat can be shipped for profits.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is working hard to stop the annual whale hunt in Iceland.

The organization reported that the meat from the animals is not going to feed the citizens of Iceland, but is instead being shipped to other countries for a small profit.

The vast majorities of Icelanders do not eat whale meat and prefer to watch the beautiful animals as they swim freely off the coastline.

Whale watching has become so popular in recent years that it has created its own industry with more than 100,000 tourists spending $15 million a year in Iceland’s coastal towns during whale watching season.

With these facts it would be reasonable to conclude that whales should have become a protected species in the country, but in 2006 Iceland dropped its ban on whale hunting and resumed commercial whaling.

Now hundreds of whales are senselessly slaughtered annually. In 2010 hunters killed 148 endangered fin whales and 60 minke whales.

And nearly all of the whale meat was transported to Japan. Japan Today reported that 631 tons of finback whale meat had arrived in the country during the year.

The International Whaling Commission placed a global ban on whale hunting in 1986. Only Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to hunt whales, under the pretense that it is for scientific research.

Japan kills between 600–900 whales every year.

IFAW says that whaling is inherently cruel and that it can take more than half an hour for a harpooned whale to die.

The organization is asking the government of Iceland to end all commercial whaling in the country once and for all.

CLICK HERE to sign the IFAW petition that asks Iceland’s Ambassador to the U.S. to Stop Whale Hunting in his country.

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