Killing of endangered fin whales looks set to resume in Iceland – despite poor market and international opposition

Archive photo ©IFAW
Tuesday, 7 May, 2013
London, UK

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW has condemned an apparent decision to resume the cruel practice of harpooning endangered fin whales in Iceland.

Kristjan Loftsson, the lone Icelandic whaler responsible for slaughtering 280* fin whales in Icelandic waters in recent years, halted his fin whaling operation for two years but according to Icelandic media reports, plans to start the killing again shortly.

He had previously cited difficulties in trading the meat with Japan following its tsunami tragedy as a reason for cancelling the hunt in 2011 and 2012.

IFAW has worked alongside Icelandic whale watch operators for many years to promote whale watching as a humane and profitable alternative to the cruelty of whaling.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “We are very saddened and disappointed to hear it reported that these endangered whales will once again be cruelly and needlessly slaughtered in Iceland. IFAW-commissioned research has shown that killing whales is uneconomic and that responsible whale watching is better for whales and for coastal communities.”

Loftsson regularly exports relatively small amounts of fin whale meat to his own company in Japan, but has yet to find a demand for the meat on the Japanese market.

Minke whaling in Iceland, which has focussed on a limited domestic and tourism market, is also dwindling. Last year, 52 minke whales were killed, despite a catch limit of 216.

In 2011 IFAW launched its ‘Meet Us Don’t Eat Us’ campaign in Iceland, encouraging tourists visiting the country to support responsible whale watching but to avoid sampling whale meat. The campaign will continue this summer.

Iceland is one of Europe’s top destinations for whale watching and last year it attracted 175,000 whale watchers.


Notes to Editors –

* Seven fin whales were killed in Iceland’s waters in 2006, 125 in 2009 and 148 in 2010.

A five-year fin whaling quota was granted covering 2009 to 2013, with an allowance that any unused quota could feasibly be carried over to 2014.

Iceland is at risk of diplomatic action by the United States over its commercial whaling activities.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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