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DStv Channel 403 Wednesday, 04 October 2023

Whaling opposition rises in Iceland as govt ban looms

Iceland, Norway and Japan are the only countries that authorise whaling.
 Humpback whale

ICELAND - Opposition to whaling is on the rise in Iceland with a majority now in favour of dropping the practice, a fresh public opinion poll showed ahead of a possible government ban.

The survey, conducted by the Maskina institute and published late Thursday, indicated that 51 percent of Icelanders were opposed to the whale hunt, up from 42 percent four years ago.

Iceland, Norway and Japan are the only countries that authorise whaling.

The share of Icelanders in favour of the hunt has dipped slightly, to 29 percent from 32 percent four years ago, the poll showed.

Those most against it were people aged 18 to 29, while over-60s were those most in favour.

Men were generally more favourable than women in all age groups.

An anti-whaling demonstration is to be held on Saturday in Reykjavik, organised with Iceland's famed singer-songwriter Bjork.

Shocking video clips recently broadcast by Icelandic veterinary authorities showed a whale's agony as it was hunted for five hours. 

The country's fisheries minister announced in February 2022 that the government planned to stop issuing whaling quotas as of 2024.

But it has yet to announce its formal decision.

The annual quotas, last reassessed in 2019 and valid until the end of 2023, authorise the killing of 209 fin whales -- the second-longest marine mammal after the blue whale -- and 217 minke whales, one of the smallest species.

But catches have gone down drastically in recent years due to a dwindling market for whale meat.

A total of 148 whales were killed last year.

One whaling company hung up its harpoons for good in 2020, leaving only one other company, Hvalur, still hunting the mammals.

Iceland has depended heavily on fishing and whaling for centuries, but in the past two decades its tourism industry has blossomed -- and the two key sectors of the economy have diverging interests.

Japan, by far the biggest market for whale meat, resumed commercial whaling in 2019 after a three-decade hiatus, drastically reducing the need for imports from Iceland. 


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