Whales killed for fish freezer, no market for meat – “It’s a cruel waste,” says IFAW

Tuesday, 24 October, 2006
Reykjavik, Iceland
A second fin whale - classified as an endangered species - has been killed by whalers in Iceland despite the lack of a market for the meat and the lack of proper processing facilities. Ethical questions are now being raised on the decision by Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries to allow the whaling to proceed on these grounds. Experts with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www­.ifaw.org) are condemning the hunt as cruel and unnecessary.
The whale is expected to be brought ashore early Tuesday afternoon, and will be the second fin whale hunted commercially by whalers since the Minister of Fisheries, Einar K. Gudfinnsson, issued hunting permits last week for nine endangered fin whales and 30 minke whales. The first fin whale was brought ashore on Sunday to international outcry.
The sole whale processing plant in Iceland, a facility built during World War II and not used in twenty years, is currently out of operation. Due to this lack of adequate whale processing facilities, the whales are being flensed in the open and the meat from these marine mammals is being frozen in a local fish processing plant.
By tradition, Icelanders do not consume fin whale meat, leaving only Japan as the potential buyer for the whale meat. But yesterday, Japanese Ambassador to Iceland Fumiko Saiga publicly announced that Japan did not want the meat, citing current whale meat surpluses in Japan.
“It is a cruel waste that these great whales have been killed to sit in a fish freezer,” said IFAW Director for Wildlife and Habitat Dr. Joth Singh. “Why would Fisheries Minister Gudfinnsson allow this hunt to proceed under such conditions? It is neither economical nor ethical.”
Fin whales are listed as “endangered” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and are second only to the blue whale in 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 official population figures are currently unknown. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) implemented a global commercial whaling moratorium. The international trade in whale meat is banned under regulations established by the U.N Convention for Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
IFAW is calling on its 2.5 million supporters worldwide to take action against the decision by Fisheries Minister Gudfinnsson to allow commercial whaling. To learn more, visit www­.ifaw.org today.

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