But this week the Icelandic government announced it will allow up to 2,000 whales to be killed in the next five years.
A Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture statement released Tuesday said a maximum of 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales can be killed each year between 2018 and 2025.
Iceland’s Fisheries Minister Kristján Þór Júlíusson said the new whale quotas are sustainable and based on research from the nation’s Marine Research Institute and the University of Iceland.
“Whaling in Icelandic waters is only directed at abundant whale stocks, North Atlantic common minke whales and fin whales, it is science-based, sustainable, strictly managed and in accordance with international law,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
But activists and conservationists disagree.
“This is a country that’s embraced whale watching and has a different relationship with whales now,” WDC spokesman Chris Butler-Stroud told CNN. “The reality is, the whale meat that’s being consumed there is mostly by tourists, unfortunately. … If it was down to local consumption, this probably would be dead in the water.”
A report from the University of Iceland said whale watching contributed $13.4 million to the economy, while the whale hunting company Hval hf. Contributed $8.4 million. According to the report, more people are employed in whale watching than in whaling, but wages are higher in whale hunting.
That report also concluded that “Icelanders have managed whaling in a responsible manner.”