Every year in Iceland, thousands and thousands of critically endangered fin whales are killed for their meat, by an Icelandic whaling company, called Hvalur. Kristjan Loftsson, the big boss of Hvalur, exports this whale meat to Japan, where it is considered tastier than Minke whale meat.
Iceland has repeatedly ignored international conservation agreements, including the International Whaling Commission (IWC)’s ban on whaling, and drastically increased its whaling activities and international trade in whale products in recent years. Hundreds of minke whales and endangered fin whales have been killed since Iceland resumed whaling in 2006 — nearly 300 animals in 2009-2010 alone!
Iceland’s sole fin whaling company, Hvalur hf, suspended its fin whaling due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, where it exports its whale meat. Despite this suspension, Iceland continued to permit whaling and had a government issued fin whale quota in effect for the 2011 season that continued to exceed catch levels that the IWC’s scientific body advised would be sustainable if the moratorium was removed.
The U.S. Takes Action Against Icelandic Whaling
Here’s the message from President Obama to Congress last year:
Iceland’s actions threaten the conservation status of an endangered species and undermine multilateral efforts to ensure greater worldwide protection for whales. Iceland’s increased commercial whaling and recent trade in whale products diminish the effectiveness of the IWC’s conservation program because: (1) Iceland’s commercial harvest of whales undermines the moratorium on commercial whaling put in place by the IWC to protect plummeting whale stocks; (2) the fin whale harvest greatly exceeds catch levels that the IWC’s scientific body advised would be sustainable if the moratorium were removed; and (3) Iceland’s harvests are not likely to be brought under IWC management and control at sustainable levels through multilateral efforts at the IWC.
“Very Likely That Commercial Fin Whale Hunting Will Resume”
And yet, the Iceland Review Online reported today, April 30, 2012, that Skessuhorn, a regional newspaper in west Iceland, states that according to “reliable sources” it is very likely that commercial fin whale hunting will resume in the region in June and that a three-month season is planned.
Recognizing that whaling was canceled last season due to the difficult situation on the Japanese market following the natural disasters that hit the country in 2011, Loftsson was asked whether whaling would be resumed.
From Iceland Review Online:
He prefers to not discuss whaling in the media, he said.
To Fréttablađiđ, Loftsson said nothing had been decided regarding fin whaling this summer. “Hopefully it can happen and it hasn’t been ruled out but nothing has been decided. Skessuhorn is making up news at home to service anti-whaling activists abroad.”
According to Skessuhorn, Loftsson was recently in Japan to meet potential buyers of fin whale products where local whalers have reportedly not been successful in the past few months.
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) issued a press release in response to the news, urging European and US leaders to take strong diplomatic actions to end Iceland’s “continued and expanding” whaling.
Clare Perry, EIA senior campaigner, said: “Iceland has exported almost 2,000 tons of whale meat to Japan in recent years. The Icelandic whaling company Hvalur is deliberately growing an export market for an endangered species which is protected by two international agreements to which Iceland is signatory. We are calling on the EU and US to take urgent steps to end this rogue whaling.”
Kristjan Loftsson issued the following statement: “Whales are just another fish for me, an abundant marine resource, nothing else.”
The slaughter of whales is inhumane, unnecessary and unsustainable — and it needs to end. If you agree, please sign our petition calling for an end to the whale slaughter in Iceland.
Photo Credit: Tim Melling