A group of animal-rights groups recently sent a demand letter to the Icelandic government to urge the ban of whale hunting. In February, Kristján Þór Júlíusson, Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, allowed the renewal of permits that would allow hunters to kill fin and minke whales until at least 2023. Júlíusson’s decision was based on a dubious report that showed that whale populations had stabilized in Iceland and that hunting them again would pose no environmental harm. In their letter, the groups—which include Reykjavik Animal Save, Sea Shepherd Iceland, and Stop Whaling in Iceland—disagreed with Júlíusson’s decision and expressed the importance of whales in fighting climate change. The letter pointed out the hypocrisy of hunting whales in Iceland, a country known for whale watching as a tourist attraction. “But we do not understand how it is possible for Iceland to protect whales in one area promoting the observation of them alive in the wild, in their natural habitat, and at the same time, to kill them in nearby areas?” the letter stated. “With the success of whale watching in Iceland it is clear that a whale alive is worth more than a dead whale, especially when whale meat is not an Icelandic tradition, but one acquired from Norwegians a few decades ago.” According to the letter, only one percent of Icelanders regularly eat whale meat and 81 percent have never sampled it, according to a Gallup poll highlighted in the letter. “It is not even possible to argue for whale meat consumption for its health benefits since it is highly concentrated in heavy metals and therefore even more difficult to sell abroad,” the letter added. In addition to delivering the letter to the government, representatives from the groups protested outside of Parliament this week in hopes of ending whale hunting in Iceland.
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