Sperm whales are named after spermaceti, a waxy substance that comes from a large bag of oil in their head. Spermaceti, which was separated from sperm oil, was used to make candles and for other purposes and was one of the main reasons commercial whalers in the United States shot whales. Hvalur hf, which was founded in 1948, will not hunt the endangered fin whale or the more common minke whale for the rest of the year, according to the Reykjavik vineyard. The company, which exports most of its products to Japan, cited a decreased appetite for whale meat as a reason for not hunting. For centuries, the main reason for whaling was the use of whale oil to light lamps, as a lubricant and to make candles. Semen oil was a more valuable commodity than other whale oils because it burned odorless, with less smoke and brighter. A sperm whale could provide 25 to 50 barrels of oil. The sale of semen oil and other whale products is now illegal in the United States. About 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises (another type of dolphin-like whale) are killed each year as bycatch, meaning they are not the intended target of fishermen. Whaling involves killing whales – giant mammals that live in the ocean – for their meat and bacon.
This article focuses on intensive and commercial whaling, not subsistence whaling by Indigenous communities. Especially for Europeans and North American settlers, whaling was an important financial activity, peaking from the 17th century to the late 19th century, and its continuation until the 1980s led to the near extinction of some whale species. It continues to this day in a handful of countries. Before World War I, the newly founded German Reich attempted to restore German whaling on a large scale. This was done with ships sailing either from Germany to Iceland or from newly founded German colonies to African waters. These attempts were never commercially successful and soon gave up. It was not until the 1930s that Germany – with mostly Norwegian personnel – was able to rebuild an important and prosperous whaling industry. More than 15,000 whales were caught between 1930 and 1939. With the outbreak of World War II, German whaling was completely abandoned. Some communities are allowed to hunt small numbers of whales for cultural reasons and support themselves (rather than simply hunting for profit). However, this right is increasingly being violated. In 2021, Sermersooq City Council banned whaling in Nuup Kangerlua, one of the largest fjords in populated areas of Greenland.
The council did not want hunting to kill humpback whales seen by the local tourism industry. Before local humpback whaling resumed in 2010, there were nine humpback whales in the fjord during the summer. When the hunt resumed, some were killed and others left.   Sermersooq has not banned whaling elsewhere in the municipality, which is the largest community in the world with 200,000 square miles on both coasts. The inhabitants of the town of Barrouallie hunt and sell meat from pilot whales and several species of dolphins, including killer whales and false killer whales. 92% of the inhabitants of the city and a large part of the neighboring cities eat this meat at least occasionally. Sellers call this meat “black fish” regardless of the species. Its methylmercury content means that consumption should be less than one serving every three weeks. However, the danger of mercury is not very well known in the country.
Starting in 2020, the government plans to ban the hunting of killer whales.  The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established within the International Center for Research on Women to decide on hunting quotas and other relevant issues based on the findings of its scientific committee. Third countries are not bound by their rules and implement their own management programmes. It regulates the hunting of 13 species of large whales and has not reached consensus on whether it can regulate smaller species.  The solitary minke whale, which is not threatened with extinction, falls into this category. The same goes for the endangered fin whale, also known as fin whale. But Icelandic whalers chase them anyway. This caught the attention of Jonny Zwick, a California-based filmmaker. His documentary Breach, released on Amazon Prime in November, explores the country`s commercial whaling industry.
Iceland is the only country in the world that hunts endangered fin whales, which is very different from the commercial minke whaling that takes place in Norway and Japan. Because it`s a different species — it`s an endangered species. Whaling in Iceland is not that widespread, but Norway kills a ton of minke whales off the radar, and Japan is completely in the spotlight, which is appropriate because they go down to whale sanctuaries, and they also kill thousands of whales, but they are minke whales and they claim it is research. Norway and Iceland openly admit that this is commercial whaling, but no one seems to pay much attention to it. Many countries once had important whaling industries, which are the subject of separate articles; for example, whaling in the Netherlands, whaling in Scotland and whaling in Argentina. Canada, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, the United States and the Danish dependencies of the Faroe Islands and Greenland continue to hunt in the 21st century and are described below. The ban does not make whaling itself illegal – it is a volunteer group with limited enforcement tools. Yet many researchers argue that non-lethal methods are just as effective at studying whale populations. And conservationists complain that the scientific exception is just a loophole for commercial whalers. Whales have long been hunted in small numbers by Indigenous communities. But once whale blubber became a commodity for Europeans and North American settlers, whales were something that whalers willing to endure for several years and perilous journeys in harsh conditions could monetize, as environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth has described. In the 19th century, bacon was “removed from the body and boiled to make oil, and virtually all the rest of the carcass was discarded.” (In the 20th century, however, whalers used almost all of the whale.) Whale oil has been used in many different products: margarine, motor oils, automotive transmission fluid, cosmetics such as face creams, soap and more.
In 2019, this independent Danish territory ended the lives of more than 100 whales. However, this region uses the meat within its community and does not sell it. Neither IWC whaling registrations nor national or EU countries touch their local traditions. Currently, according to IWC regulations, indigenous Chukchi from the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in the Russian Far East are allowed to catch up to 140 gray whales from the Northeast Pacific population each year. About 40 belugas are captured each year in the Sea of Okhotsk.  There are no recent catch data in the Arctic Ocean or Bering Sea, where approximately 60 belugas were captured annually in the early 1980s.  In 1994, it was reported that the Soviet Union had systematically underestimated its catches. For example, from 1948 to 1973, the Soviet Union captured 48,477 humpback whales instead of the 2,710 it officially declared to the IWC.  Based on this new information, the IWC stated that it would have to rewrite its catch figures for the last forty years.  According to Ray Gambell, then secretary of the IWC, the organization had expressed its suspicions about the former Soviet Union, but it took no further action because it could not interfere with national sovereignty.
 My uncle is a marine biologist and ecologist.