Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Whale-watching is now bigger than whaling in Iceland

Two of Iceland's largest whaling companies are keeping their boats in port this summer. One of them permanently.

Whale-watching is now bigger than whaling in Iceland
Image source: RnDmS/Shutterstock
  • Since the International Whaling Commission's ban on whaling went into effect in 1986, only three countries are still whaling: Norway, Iceland, and Japan.
  • The whale-watching industry is rapidly eclipsing whaling in Iceland these days.
  • If you visit Iceland, don't eat the whale meat — Icelanders don't.

In 1982, 25 member nations of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) voted to ban commercial whaling by 1986. Seven nation voted against the ban: Brazil, Iceland, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Peru, and the-then Soviet Union. Nonetheless, in 1986, large-scale hunting of whales ended worldwide. Mostly.

Norway never stopped whaling, and Iceland resumed whaling in 2003. Japan exited the IWC in 2019 and announced they would be ending their already-controversial annual Antarctic whaling expeditions and resuming commercial whaling in their territorial waters and in the country's 200-mile exclusive economic zone along its coast, claiming research as their reason for doing so. According to the World Wildlife Federation, 31,984 whales have been killed since the moratorium when into effect.

Iceland's two largest whaling companies have just announced they're going keep their ships ashore for the 2020 whaling season. The companies' motivations are apparently strictly monetary. "I'm never going to hunt whales again, I'm stopping for good ," Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson of the minke whaling company IP-Utgerd told Agence France-Presse (AFP). The second company, Hvalur, which hunts fin whales, has only committed to halting operations for 2020. Neither company was out on the seas in 2019 due to low catches in recent years and other financial consideration.

Minke whale, (left), and a fin whale, (right)

Image source: Jemma Craig/ Leonardo Gonzalez /Shutterstock

Jonsson explained his decision to stop whaling to AFP as being primarily a reaction to an extension of the no-fishing coastal zone that forced his ships out further in search of whales, saying the change made continuing no longer financially feasible.

The CEO of Hvalu, Kristján Loftsson, explained his thinking to Icelandic newspaper, Morganbladid. Loftsson claimed that social distancing was a factor since it made operating vessels and processing whale meat more difficult. This doesn't explain why his ships stayed home in 2019.

A more plausible explanation would be that Japan — the company's primary market — has become less hospitable to his whale meat. He told Morganbladid that Japanese government subsidies for domestic whalers made it difficult for him to compete. It's also the case that people in Japan are eating less whale meat.

A sea change

Image source: Chris Yang/Unsplash

Árni Finnsson, chairman of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association tells National Geographic there's another reason for Jonsson and Loftsson calling it quits: public sentiment is turning against the whaling industry. Finnson says, "What has changed is that the fishing industry is not willing to support him anymore. They feel that Iceland needs to be able to export fish to the U.S. market, and they don't want to continue defending whaling. I think he's done."

In fact, Icelanders overall are less in favor of whaling, particularly in light of a newly booming industry: whale watching, which grew from 15-34% each year between 2012 and 2016. The most popular area for catching a glimpse of the animals is the eastern part of the large Faxaflói Bay.

These waters are minke territory. To keep whale-lovers and whalers apart, a small sanctuary in the bay was created in 2007. That was expanded by the government at the urging of Icewhale, an association of whale-watching companies in 2017. The enlarged sanctuary included the waters where 321 of the 335 minkes caught by Icelandic whalers between 2007 and 2016 were harvested, thus pushing whalers such as Jonnson out to sea.

In addition, while whale meat was never highly regarded in Iceland, and a recent poll found that just 1% of Inlanders now eat whale meat regularly while 84% say they never have.

"Hunting whales with cameras delivers economic benefits to coastal communities around the world, and Iceland is pointing the way," says Patrick Ramage, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Even Norway is showing signs that the days of whaling may be coming to an end: The number of whaling vessels in 2017 was half of what it was in 2016, and just a third of the officially allowed number of whales were being taken during that time.

Take your career to the next level by raising your EQ

Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.

Gear
  • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
  • One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
  • EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
Keep reading Show less

Just How Much Land Does the Federal Government Own — and Why?

The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC.

Surprising Science

The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC. Until you look at the title to the land. The federal government owns large tracts of the western states: from a low of 29.9% in Montana, already more than the national average, up to a whopping 84.5% in Nevada.

Keep reading Show less

Can VR help us understand layers of oppression?

Researchers are using technology to make visual the complex concepts of racism, as well as its political and social consequences.

Future of Learning
  • Often thought of first as gaming tech, virtual reality has been increasingly used in research as a tool for mimicking real-life scenarios and experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Focusing on issues of oppression and the ripple affect it has throughout America's political, educational, and social systems, Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn of Columbia University School of Social Work and her team developed a VR experience that gives users the opportunity to "walk a mile" in the shoes of a black man as he faces racism at three stages in his life: as a child, during adolescence, and as an adult.
  • Cogburn says that the goal is to show how these "interwoven oppressions" continue to shape the world beyond our individual experiences. "I think the most important and powerful human superpower is critical consciousness," she says. "And that is the ability to think, be aware and think critically about the world and people around you...it's not so much about the interpersonal 'Do I feel bad, do I like you?'—it's more 'Do I see the world as it is? Am I thinking critically about it and engaging it?'"
Keep reading Show less

Russia claims world's first COVID-19 vaccine but skepticism abounds

President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced coronavirus vaccine at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

Credit: Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Coronavirus
  • Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in Russia.
  • Scientists around the world are worried that the vaccine is unsafe and that Russia fast-tracked the vaccine without performing the necessary phase 3 trials.
  • To date, Russia has had nearly 900,000 registered cases of coronavirus.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast