Minke whale hunting ends in Iceland

A Minke Whale.
A Minke Whale. Photo credit: Reuters

The hunt for minke whales in Iceland has come to a long-awaited end due to a decline in profits, forcing closure of the industry.

Only six whales were caught in June and none in July, which is usually the peak month for whale hunting.

The last few years have seen a serious decline in the number of whales killed, with only 17 been caught in 2016.

The head of whaling company IP-Utgerd Ltd, Gunnar Jonsson, confirmed to AFP that hunting has stopped.

"We need to go much farther from the coast than before, so we need more staff, which increases costs," he told the Morgunbladid newspaper.

Iceland, along with Norway, openly defies the International Whaling Commission's 1986 ban on whale hunting.

The practice has drawn fire from numerous corners including the European Union and the United States, which in 2014 threatened Iceland with economic sanctions.

Japan also hunts whales, but uses a legal loophole that allows it to continue catching the animals in order to gather scientific data.

Icelandic whaling company Hvalur drew ire earlier this month when marine conservationists claimed it had killed a rare blue whale.

However it turned out to be a hybrid between a blue whale and a fin whale, which are possibly even rarer than blue whales but have no laws to protect them.