Study documents declining whale stocks

A whale tail (not minke)A recent report produced from the Marine Research Institute in Iceland has documented the declining number of minke whales in the waters surrounding the Nordic nation. According to Fish Update, the report claims that since 2001 the number of minke whales has declined by 24 per cent.

According to Iceland Review, the whale count in 2001 was conducted by aircraft and counted 43,600 minke whales in the water around Iceland.

Last year, the same process resulted in just 10,000 to 15,000 minke whales being counted, which, if true, could be a decline of 24 per cent in stock.

Gísli Víkingsson was one of the authors of the report and mentioned that the matter of stock numbers had already been submitted for discussion by the Science Committee North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission. Víkingsson believes it is possible the drop in numbers could be the result of a migration of minke whales in search of food.

In addition, Víkingsson pointed to significant changes in the marine environment around Faxaflói bay, the area where the most recent count took place.

The minke whale’s primary source of food is sand launce and capelin. The number of these species has been declining, which is also reflected in the decreasing number of other animals who are a part of the same food chain.

Vikingsson does not believe that the decline in numbers is the result of the government’s decision to allow whale hunting to resume in Iceland.

While hunting may not have resulted in such drastically reduced whale stocks, the data seems to contradict arguments made by those in favour of whale hunting. The Icelandic Fishing Vessels Owners ( LÍÚ), for example, have argued that hunting helps keep the ecosystem in balance.

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