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Icelandic hunting vessels in port

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New Icelandic whaling licences should not be granted says WDC report

Whaling ship Hvalur 8 arrives at the whaling station with two fin whales

In anticipation of an application in coming weeks for new whale hunting licences by Hvalur hf (Iceland's only whale hunting company), we have released a comprehensive report urging the Icelandic government to call a decisive halt to whaling activities.  

The report, which has been delivered to Svandis Svavarsdóttir, Iceland's Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, details compelling reasons for whaling licences not to be granted that range from ethical concerns and a lack of economic impact, to failure to adhere to international commitments. 

The reasons given include –  

Ethical Imperatives: The report scrutinises the welfare breaches and suffering caused to fin whales during the 2022 and 2023 whaling seasons in Iceland. With numerous whales needing to be shot with more than one harpoon (one whale taking up to two hours to die), the report emphasises Iceland’s ethical responsibility to stop whaling. 

Environmental Stewardship: The report highlights the negative environmental impact of whaling. By ending whaling activities, Iceland can position itself as a leader in ocean biodiversity and climate action, fostering a positive global stance. 

Economic Analysis: WDC's report summarises the economic dimensions of whaling, highlighting how little whaling contributes to the Icelandic economy, with the last remaining whaling company Hvalur hf. regularly making an annual loss and a lack of long-term job security for employees. 

International Commitments: The report scrutinises Iceland's performance in upholding commitments made at international conventions and agreements related to biodiversity conservation and climate change. It calls for a positive re-positioning of Iceland's role on the global stage. 

'The Icelandic government has committed itself to sustainability, international obligations and animal welfare, and has historically aimed to align its policies with these values. However, the practice of whaling in Iceland contradicts these goals, as is illustrated in this report. The evidence presented shows that renewing whaling licenses will have a broad negative impact, not only within Iceland but on a global scale', says Luke McMillan, WDC's head of hunting and captivity.  

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