Iceland plans to resume its disputed commercial fin whale hunt in June with a quota of at least 154 giant mammals plus some 20% from last season possibly. Beside the second largest whale species (after the blue whale), Iceland also hunts a smaller minke whales. Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006.
Kristjan Loftsson, chief executive of Hvalur, the only company that catches the fin whale, said that two vessels are being prepared for the hunt and they will head out to sea in early June. In 2010, Hvalur caught 148 fin whales but none in 2011 and 2012 due to the disintegration of its only market in quake- and tsunami-hit Japan. Iceland exported 500- 600 tons of fin whale meat to Japan in 2011. Most of this year’s whale meat would be also exported to Japan. In 2011, the United States threatened Iceland with economic sanctions over its commercial whaling, accusing the country of undermining international efforts to preserve the ocean giants.
Iceland and Norway are the only two countries still openly practising commercial whaling in defiance of the moratorium. Japan also hunts whales but insists this is only for scientific purposes even if most of the meat ends up on the market for consumption.
The species is also hunted by Greenlanders under the Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling provisions of the IWC. Estimates suggest that the population of the remaining fin whales in the world’s seas range from less than 100,000 to roughly 119,000.
The International Whaling Commission imposed a global moratorium on whaling in 1986 amid alarm at the declining stock of the marine mammals. Fin whales are protected in the Southern Ocean and North Pacific since the 1970s and in the North Atlantic by the moratorium from 1986; some special permit and commercial whaling under objection has occurred since. Fin whale populations in the Southern Hemisphere were heavily exploited by industrial whaling in the Southern Ocean, especially between the 1930s and 1960s. More....