Iceland kills endangered whale

by bryan kennedy on Oct. 25th, 2006

Fin whale: Courtesy Lori Mazzuca, NOAA
Fin whale: Courtesy Lori Mazzuca, NOAA

In a continuing world trend toward renewed whaling of endangered species Iceland whalers have killed a Fin whale. Fin whales are listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

SirPink's picture
SirPink says:

First of all, Fin whales are not endangered around Iceland. The IWC even admits that there are at least 25.800 fin whales around Iceland. That is 70% of what the stock was before exploitation and this stock has been conserved now for more then 30 years (Iceland imposed ban on fin whale hunting long before IWC did so). The stock grows 10% annually and has done so from 1989-2001 and there is no reason why that should change drastically. (See the IWC scientific report 2006)

The IUCN red list lists fin whales as being endangered. That’s because no numbers have been released about the size of the stock in the southern hemisphere. On the other hand IUCN admits that there are accurate numbers of whales in the Northern Atlantic (http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/2478/summ) but because the IUCN looks at fin whales on global level they list them as endangered. In January 2007 will IUCN review the status of the whales, and they might list them correctly, endangered in the southern hemisphere and not endangered in the North Atlantic like they have already done to some other species of whale.

Iceland didn’t brake any international or moral laws by starting to hunt whales. It’s very simple, they joined the IWC and stated that if the IWC hadn’t come up with any management regulations within 2006 they would have the right to hunt whales. IWC agreed upon that when they joined. Since 1994 have the IWC tried to put a management system in place for sustainable whaling. The IWC haven't managed to agree upon management system and quotas for hunting whales, because of stalling form the anti-whaling body. Therefore Iceland is no longer obliged by the moratorium and can start whaling.

Iceland is a small and barren island in the middle of the ocean that sustains it livelihood on their fisheries industries and the stocks of resource in the sea. The have managed to control their fishing in a very good manner while most other nations that are fishing face near extinction of their fish reserves (e.g. Cod in the North-Sea). Of course they want to use all the resources they have on their small island to make the best out of their life. And they would never even consider doing something that would harm their fish or whale stocks just because it would always bite them in the back.

Meat is meat, and actually whale meet is very good. Whales are no different then any other sustainable source of meat in the world. To say that they are so big and majestic that they should not be hunted is another strange annotation. There is no logic behind it. It just represents people opinion about them. How can you say that cattle meat should be eaten and whale meat not? Why do you want to imprison cattle all of their life instead of eating meat from free whales that have until now lived their entire life in complete freedom! If there aren’t any facts or arguments behind the anti-whaling claims why shouldn't you just tolerate other people culture and viewpoints.

Everybody agrees that the best way to manage whaling is to have a management system that IWC regulates. But while that wouldn’t happen then the whaling nations have the right to start whaling. Now we have to see if IWC can stop to be about politics and starts to be about scientific facts. It's all about that on this globe there are a lot of different cultures and nations that we need to respect. If there are not facts at all against whaling why not authorize sustainable whaling regulated by the IWC as many of the nations ask for? Why can't these two bodies within IWC meet in the middle?

posted on Wed, 10/25/2006 - 2:57pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Wow, thanks for your depth of information on this subject. You obviously brought more info to the issue than my quick post ever could have.

However, I still disagree with you on some of your points of opinion. Just because it is in Iceland's best interest to sustainably harvest their whale population doesn't mean that they will. Over-harvesting worldwide must have been a problem at sometime or we wouldn't be where we are now...right?

You also make Iceland's actions seem generally sanctioned by the IWC. However, Sweden's environment minister Andreas Carlgren called Iceland's resumed whale harvesting, a "provocation against all those countries which are working in the International Whaling Commission to restore the decimated whale population."

The international organizations that govern whaling are moving toward a more pro-industry pro-whaling stance (lead by Japan). While this isn't always a bad thing, like when industries recognize that sustainability = profit, industry is often likely to have short sighted profit motivated goals in mind. Yes I think there needs to be some middle ground between industry's desires for harvesting a natural resource and the conservationist communities' desire to allow these creatures to flourish in the wild.

I also do think it is important to look at both the science and the politics around this issue. We have to look at the political climate in which this science will be used and sometimes abused. Science never operates in a vacuum.

posted on Wed, 10/25/2006 - 3:56pm

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