Despite cryptic motives to the contrary, Icelandic fin whaling remains paused

Eight years of campaigning against Icelandic whaling makes you cynical. 

It also teaches you that Iceland is a very special place with its own way of thinking. Coming from the Isle of Man has always helped me have an insight into the "island mentality" but sometimes an insight into iron curtain "Kremlinology" might prove more useful.

This time round it’s a question of "has fin whaling really ended?" 

This month the owner of the only commercial whaling fleet left in Iceland, Kristjan Loftsson, announced that he would be keeping his fin whaling vessels in harbour this coming season. 

The reason he gave was a wage dispute with his crews. 

This will be the second year that his ships haven't steamed out. 

Over the previous two years his antique steam boats killed more than 200 of the second largest whales that swim in our oceans.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare's response was to issue a press release that welcomed his decision to end the senseless killing. We pointed out that we had commissioned independent reports from Icelandic economists that showed there was no market for fin whale meat.

We also said we were sorry that more than 200 endangered fin whales had been killed as part of an unsuccessful experiment to see if money could be made from their cruel deaths.

But has it really ended? 

Over the years, I have reached the conclusion that the continuation of Icelandic fin whaling was due to one of three things:

  • A hopeless attempt at commercial whaling
  • An expensive hobby of a man whose family made a fortune from whaling in the 70s and 80s or
  • Political whaling designed to throw a spanner in the works of Iceland's possible accession into the European Union 

I have to say, I'm no clearer now, except that I've never considered Kristjan Loftsson to be anything other than an astute business man with an eye to the political background of his fishery and whaling activities.

Draw your own conclusions, but rest assured, IFAW will continue the fight in Iceland to end the cruel practice of commercial whaling.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Jeffrey Flocken, Regional Director, North America
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Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
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Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
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