Icelandic whalers head out to hunt first fin whale – global outcry pours in

Friday, October 20, 2006
Reykjavik, Iceland
An Icelandic whaling ship headed out yesterday to commercially hunt whales for the first time in twenty years. The move has been met with sharp criticism by both the international community and conservationists worldwide, including experts with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org).
The whalers are on the hunt for a fin whale, one of nine the government has issued hunting permits for. Fin whales are endangered under IUCN guidelines and second only to the blue whale in terms of size -- growing to average lengths of 18-22m and weights of 30-80 tons. They were hunted in significant numbers by whalers in the past, and their population figures are currently unknown.
 
Official statements have been made by the governments of the U.S., France, U.K, Australia, and New Zealand against Iceland’s decision to resume whaling. IFAW has also reacted strongly to the news and is calling on its more than 2.5 million supporters worldwide to take action by sending letters and emails to Icelandic embassies around the globe.
 
“Iceland’s decision to resume commercial whaling is bad news for Iceland as well as for whales,” said IFAW Director of Wildlife and Habitat Protection Dr. Joth Singh. “It will only tarnish the nation’s international reputation in the political arena and as an eco-friendly destination for tourists.
 
“The vast majority of Icelanders don’t eat whale meat regularly, and Iceland’s whale watching industry is thriving and growing. Clearly whales are worth more alive than dead in Iceland. Why then is the government insisting on reviving the cruel and outdated whaling industry?” added Dr. Singh.
 
Recent Gallup polling commissioned by IFAW revealed that only 1.1% of Icelanders eat whale meat once a week or more, while 82.4% of 16 to 24-year-olds never eat whale meat.

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