For now, Iceland remains one of the only countries in the world that still hunts whales commercially. As demand declines, however, the fisheries minister has said that they plan to end whaling by 2024.
“There are few justifications to authorize the whale hunt beyond 2024,” wrote Svandis Svavarsdóttir, a member of the Left Green Party, in Morgunblaðið newspaper. “There is little proof that there is any economic advantage to this activity,” she added.
Iceland’s annual quotas for 2019-23 permit the hunting of 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales. For the past three years, however, the two main license holders have suspended their whale hunts, with one of them stopping for good in 2020. So far, only one whale (a Minke whale in 2021) has been killed in the past three years.
Contributing factors to the decrease in demand are that Japan returned to commercial whaling in 2019 after withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and that the hunt has become too expensive after a no-fishing coastal zone was extended.
The social distancing restrictions required by the pandemic also halted whale meat processing plants in Iceland. It appears that economic, societal, and now legal factors are contributing toward eliminating the practice of whaling altogether, at least in Iceland.