Iceland announced last week that it would resume commercial whaling, ignoring a worldwide moratorium that came into effect in 1986.
They kicked things off by killing a fin whale, one of only 30,000 estimated to be alive as of 2001.
A female gives birth to a single calf every couple of years after a year-long gestation. That low reproductive rate means that recovering from historical hunting has been very slow. More than 10,000 fin whales were taken annually between 1946 and 1965, and lower numbers were taken until the whaling ban was imposed in 1985. That’s a lot of ground to make up, and Iceland’s decision to fire up the harpoon guns won’t help matters.
Historically, whale oil and baleen were commercially valuable, but Shelley is right to ask what the current market is for those products. Is it possible that the Icelanders are just being cussed?