The Icelandic government, which still conducts a yearly whaling hunt, publicly defended its catch limits as "sustainable" despite serious protests against whaling conducted this year. This claim of "sustainability" seems fishy when according to Iceland's own data, over half of the whales it expects to harvest are endangered.
Undercurrent News reports that Iceland's catch limits for the 2014 and 2015 seasons are set at 229 common minke whales and 154 fin whales. While minke whales are listed by the IUCN as "Least Concern," fin whales are listed as "Endangered," due to years of whaling and major mortality from ship collisions.
The country announced that the catch level for fin whales is around 0.8% of the stock size, while the catch level for minke whales is 0.7% of stock. "The catches are therefore clearly sustainable and consistent with the principle of sustainable development," says Iceland's ministry. There are 20,000 fin whales and at least 30,000 common minke whales in the area where Iceland hunts. While it may seem rational to assume that small numbers mean the catch is sustainable, this is not always so -- especially when it comes to fin whales.