This handout photo made available by the marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd on July 13, 2018 shows what they report to be a Blue whale awaiting slaughter at the Hvalur hf whaling station in Hvalfjordur Iceland on July 7, 2018. (Sea Shepherd Global/AFP/Robert Read)
Iceland's two whaling companies will skip the whale hunt this summer for the second straight year, with one telling AFP Friday that they were hanging up their harpoons for good.
As Icelandic whaling is limited to the summer months, this means no whales will be hunted off the subarctic coasts of Iceland, for the second year in a row.
IP-Utgerd, which specializes in hunting minke whales, told AFP it was no longer financially viable to hunt for whales in Icelandic waters.
"I'm never going to hunt whales again, I'm stopping for good," managing director Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson said.
The hunt had become too expensive after a no-fishing coastal zone was extended, requiring whalers to go even further offshore, he said.
Meanwhile, Hvalur, which hunts fin whales, the biggest species after the blue whale, said it was cancelling the season due to export woes and, to a lesser degree, restrictions linked to the new coronavirus.
Hvalur's chief executive Kristjan Loftsson told daily Morgunbladid the decision was mainly due to stiff competition with Japan, the main market for whale meat consumption and where commercial whaling resumed in 2019.
Loftsson said food safety requirements for imported meat were more stringent than for local products, rendering Icelandic exports more difficult.
In addition, he said Icelandic whale meat processing plants would have trouble carrying out their tasks due to social distancing restrictions implemented by authorities to combat the spread of the the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2018, the last year Iceland's whalers went out, a total of 146 fin whales and six minke whales were harpooned.
Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2003 despite the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) 1986 moratorium, which it had opposed.
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