By Paul Newman
Conservation groups are calling on the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its member governments to condemn Iceland’s commercial whale hunt following confirmation that the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf has killed yet another endangered fin whale.
The whale was killed off Iceland’s west coast and landed today at the company’s processing station in Hvalfjörður, less than an hour’s drive from the capital Reykjavik.
The kill, the first of the 2014 season, coincides with a working party meeting of the European Union Environment Council in preparation for the meeting of the IWC in September. NGOs are pushing for governments to take a strong stand against Icelandic whaling ahead of, and during, the IWC meeting.
Iceland rejoined the IWC in 2002 with a reservation to the global moratorium on commercial whaling adopted in 1982, and then resumed commercial whaling in 2006. Almost all the fin whale meat originating from the 2014 hunt is destined for Japan, despite a ban on international trade in fin whales under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Since 2008, more than 5,540 tonnes of fin whale meat has been exported, with an unprecedented single shipment of 2,000 tonnes to Japan in March this year.
Clare Perry, Senior Campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said: “EU member states have to wake up to the fact that commercial whaling and trade, in defiance of the IWC and CITES, is taking place right on their doorstep. This hunt of endangered whales must no longer go unchallenged – we look to EU member countries to lead opposition to Iceland’s whaling at the IWC meeting in Slovenia.”
Susan Millward, Executive Director at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), said: “Iceland is a remarkable country with friendly people, picturesque landscapes and a wealth of tourism opportunities, yet its international reputation is consistently eroded by promoting commercial whaling and trade in whale products in violation of international treaties.”
Chris Butler-Stroud, CEO of Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), said: “The world cannot stand by and allow Icelandic whalers to kill fin whales – the second largest creature on the planet – with impunity. WDC calls for urgent and concerted action by conservation-minded countries around the globe to oppose a hunt which is as unnecessary as it is brutal.”
HB Grandi, Iceland’s leading seafood company – whose chairman, Kristján Loftsson, is also the CEO of Hvalur – has played an active role in Iceland’s whaling industry, both promoting whaling and providing HB Grandi facilities in Arkranes, Iceland, for the processing of endangered fin whale meat for the export market. In addition to meat, the blubber and offal of the fin whale killed today will be rendered into oil.