Six whales have been hunted since the Icelandic whaling season began just over a month ago, RÚV reports. This year’s whaling quota has been set at 262 whales. Whalers say the hunt has become much harder now that the sanctuary area for whales has been enlarged, meaning that ships have to sail further out before they can begin their hunt. According to Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, the CEO of the IP fishing company, it is no longer possible to reach the whaling grounds in a single day’s journey from Reykjavík.
Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir signed a regulation enlarging the whale sanctuary in Faxaflói bay in November 2017. Faxaflói bay is located in West Iceland, between the Reykjanes and Snæfellsnes peninsulas and is a popular spot for whale watching. The decision returned the borders of the sanctuary to their 2013 boundaries.
Having to sail further out for longer means that whaling ships need to employ more crew members, says Gunnar. “This makes a huge difference to us,” he said.
Whale meat is sold in both shops and restaurants in Iceland. Norwegian whale is imported to Iceland for use when the Icelandic catch runs out. Seventeen whales were hunted last year, a significant decrease from a high point in 2009, when over 80 whales were hunted.