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Iceland Resumes Hunting Endangered Fin Whales

Iceland Resumes Hunting Endangered Fin Whales

Fin whales are listed as an endangered species, but that doesn’t stop Iceland from slaughtering them.

Weighing in at close to 80 tons, fin whales are the second largest mammal on Earth, after blue whales. They rock a distinctive look: their lower jaws are white on the right side and black on the left. Fin whales live for 80-90 years.

The International Whaling Commission bans killing whales to sell them. The International Union for Conservation includes fin whales on its red list of threatened species, while the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lists them as endangered throughout their range.

The whales got a reprieve for a couple years when Iceland cancelled its hunts in 2011 and 2012. But its motive wasn’t humane or environmental. It was purely profit-driven: the Japanese economy was on a downturn. Iceland waited until its largest market was again able to pay premium prices for fin whale meat, and the hunting resumed. The target for this year’s hunt is up to 184 fin whales.

In Japan, people still eat fin whale meat, but less than they used to. Increasingly they feed it to their dogs instead, often as jerky. (Michinoku Farm, north of Tokyo, also sells meat from kangaroos and Mongolian horses as dog treats.) There is a glimmer of hope that the Japanese market will shrink, if not dry up entirely. Greenpeace reported in 2009 that the head of the Asia Trading Company told the organization he won’t buy any more whale meat because there is no demand in Japan. The group said that “the three biggest fisheries companies in Japan have already said they don’t even want Japanese whale meat.”

But presumably someone bought Iceland’s butchered whales a year later, in 2010, before the two-year suspension of whale hunting, and Iceland’s hunters and government seem to have reason to believe that someone will buy the meat this year too. Iceland itself has no market for whale meat.

In this video from Greenpeace, Icelandic hunters begin chopping up a fin whale they harpooned.



Since 2003 Iceland has been violating international bans on commercial whaling. Norway is the only other country that openly hunts whales for commercial purposes. The International Whaling Commission seems to have no effective way to enforce its prohibition.

Fin whales face other threats to survival in addition to hunters. They are frequently hit by ships. They also get tangled up in fishing gear, face the degradation of their habitats, and are affected by human-created noise.

Please sign our petition calling on Iceland to stop the commercial hunt for whales.


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Photo credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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12:41PM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

I hope you people rot in hell!!

10:35AM PDT on Aug 15, 2013


6:59AM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

already signed but thanks for sharing :)

9:24PM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Boycott all products imported from those countries & refuse to vacation there.

1:48PM PDT on Jul 4, 2013

What is wrong with these countries? Why must we hunt every single creature on land, air, or sea??

7:50AM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

Boycott Iceland, Norway, Japan and their products! And CHINA!!!!!!!!!

7:49AM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

Climate change because of these sub-human doing all the evil thing to destroy our planet, causing unbalance is the issue. All these killers are brain dead, greedy and blinded with selfishness!!!!

5:44AM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

Boycott Iceland, Norway, Japan and their products!

12:22PM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

Laws mean nothing if not enforced. Seems that certain countries put extreme value on certain species and have others kill and sell to them.
Iceland, "sanctuaries" in Africa and the poachers.
Seems that more than one country needs to be boycotted.ZZZZD!D

7:24PM PDT on Jun 28, 2013

signed didnt watch no need for that

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