For the first time since 2015, fin whale hunting is taking place in Iceland, with whaling vessels heading out to sea to train their harpoons on this endangered marine mammal, the second largest whale in the world.  

On April 17 Kristján Loftsson (CEO of Hvalur hf, Iceland’s only fin whale hunting company) confirmed the speculation and publicly announced that he would resume fin whale hunting this summer after a three-year hiatus. Yesterday, approximately two months later, one of the Hvalur hf vessels left Reykjavik Harbour to begin their pursuit. They will now be making their way to Hvalfjordur, bringing back the first fin whale carcasses to shore.

This year, Iceland’s self-allocated fin whale quota amounts to 190 whales. This increase is due to an initiative introduced in 2011, allowing a 20% carry-over of the previous year’s ‘unused’ allocations.

Since Iceland resumed the commercial whaling of fin whales 12 years ago, 706 fin whales have been killed. Approximately one fifth of these were taken during the last hunt in 2015 – 155 whales overall.  

Of the small percentage of Icelanders that do consume whale meat, typically none eat the meat of fin whales; only minke whale meat. Hvalur hf’s customers and Icelandic fin whale meat consumers are found principally in Japan. However, in 2016 and 2017 Loftsson chose not to hunt fin whales, citing new Japanese regulations which made it difficult for Icelandic whale meat to enter its market.

IFAW opposes all commercial whaling as it is inherently cruel; there is no humane way to kill a whale. Whalers target a moving animal that is largely submerged under water, and also attempt to harpoon the animal from an unstable platform. In some cases it takes a whale more than 30 minutes to die.

We’re disappointed that Loftsson has decided to once again train his harpoons on endangered fin whales for meat that nobody needs or wants. IFAW encourages him to abandon this outdated and uneconomic whale killing which is damaging to Iceland’s international reputation.

We also urge the Icelandic government to ensure no future quotas for fin or minke whale hunting are allocated and encourage support for responsible whale watching, which is a more viable and sustainable economic practice and offers a welfare-conscious alternative to the cruelty of whaling.

–SM

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Article source: IFAW

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