Japan and Norway are the only two countries allowed by international regulations to hunt whales of any kind of volume. In 2006, however, Iceland began to join the lot and has since then caused the decline of sales by Japan of whale meat. Although, whale meat is not exactly in-demand in Iceland, maybe it’s not so surprising to see it want to enter the market, being the fishing powerhouse it is.
Multi-millionaire fishing tycoon Kristján Loftsson is one Icelandic who really wanted to get into the market. Currently, his firm Hvalur is the only Icelandic company to hunt whales for meat. According to whale industry researcher Junko Sakuma, when Iceland entered the Japanese market, it effectively ended the whale meat monopoly enjoyed by Kyodo Senpaku, the sales arm of Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR). In 2010, Iceland exported some 500 tons of whale meat to Japan; by 2011 it had exported 900. Sakuma estimates that about 20% of the whale meat market in Japan was supplied by Iceland as of May 2012.
In the meantime, Japan has an oversupply of whale meat in storage. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), nearly 5,000 tons are now sitting in stockpiles. It is believed that this is so because the standard whales hunted by Japan, the minke whale, is not as heavily demanded as that hunted by Iceland, which is the fin whale. Unfortunately, as the IFAW came to learn, the government is spending millions of dollars to sustain the whaling industry, which included routing from the tsunami recovery fund.[via Yahoo]