Iceland, Japan, and Norway are the world’s only three countries that continue to engage in commercial whale hunting
As demand for whale meat declines, Iceland has stated that whale hunting will be phased out by 2024.
Since Japan – Iceland’s largest market, particularly for fin whale meat – resumed commercial whaling in 2019 after a three-decade hiatus, demand for Icelandic whale meat has dropped considerably.
The extension of a no-fishing coastal zone, which forced whalers to travel even further offshore, increased the expense of Iceland’s hunt.
Furthermore, the safety regulations for imported meat were stricter than those for local goods, making Icelandic exports more challenging.
Additionally, Icelandic whale meat processing factories could not operate normally due to social distancing rules imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Despite an International Whaling Commission (IWC) prohibition imposed in 1986, Iceland restarted commercial whaling in 2006. In Iceland’s most recent full season in 2018, 146 fin whales and six Minke whales were killed.
Iceland, Japan, and Norway are the world’s only three countries that continue to engage in commercial whale hunting. Norway saw a record-breaking amount of whales killed during the 2021 whale hunting season, with over 575 minke whales killed. Despite mounting public and international criticism, their annual whaling quota has risen to 1,278.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is responsible for setting catch limits for commercial whaling. It was established in 1946 as the global body responsible for managing the whaling and conservation of whales. Today the IWC has 88 member countries.
IWC voted in 1982 to halt commercial whaling on all whale species and populations beginning with the 1985/1986 season. This hiatus is known as the commercial whaling moratorium, and it is still in effect today.