Whaling Icelandic whaling season have started The 2009 whaling season has now started in the waters off Iceland.

Iceland and Norway are the only two countries that openly defy the international whaling moratorium; Japan is instead using a loop whole, claiming their whaling to be carried out for scientific purposes.

Former Icelandic fisheries minister Steingrimur Sigfusson said in February that Iceland would make no changes to its whaling quotas of 150 Fin whales and up to 150 Minke whales per year.

“The first batch of meat will be in stores by the weekend,” says Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, manager of the Minke Whaler Association. He said 50 to 60 per cent of the meat will be sold domestically, while the rest is sold to Japan.

The first whales are usually killed in a bay outside Reykjavik, since whaling is prohibited close to the harbour. The prohibition has been imposed to prevent whalers from disturbing whale watchers, since that may cause damage to the Icelandic whale watching business.

The Icelandic whaling season usually runs from May to late September.

Whale facts
Also known as Little Piked Whales or Lesser Rorquals, Mink Whales prefer icy waters but are found world-wide. Once perceived as one single species, the population has quite recently been recognized as consisting of two distinct species: the Northern Mink Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, and the Southern Mink Whale, Balaenoptera bonaerensis. Together, the two species are believed to form a population of over 1 million Minke Whales world-wide. Balaenoptera acutorostrata is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, while Balaenoptera bonaerensi is listed as Data Deficient since it was recognized as a separate species so recently.

The Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) is also found world-wide, with 40,000-56,000 specimens living in the North Atlantic. Unlike the Mink Whale, the Fin Whale is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Photograph created by Erik Christensen. Taken on the Faroe island not Island.