Iceland slaughters first fin whale after a two-year break

Iceland continues to disregard biodiversity

After a break of two years, the Icelandic whaling ship "Hvalur 8" harpooned the first fin whale on 22 June 2018. The whale and dolphin conservation organization WDC strongly criticizes the resumption of fin whaling in Iceland. The now killed whale marks the beginning of a season in which up to 238 of the strictly protected marine giants could be slaughtered.

The manager of the whaling company Hvalur hf, Kristján Loftsson, triggered international criticism with his new plans for the exploitation of the killed fin whales. The second largest animal in the world is to be processed into iron supplements and other nutritional supplements.

Astrid Fuchs, Campaign Director at WDC, said indignantly: "Iceland continues to disregard the protection of species by continuing to hunt for a threatened species of whale." The announcement that the fin whales are now producing dietary supplements puts Mr. Loftsson's whaling "on par with the poaching of rhinoceros or lions."

For the first time since the resumption of commercial whaling in 2006, Iceland's self-assigned fin whaling facility allows whalers to expand their hunt for waters in the east of the country.

Fin whale meat is not eaten in Iceland; the main market is Japan. Since 2008, more than 8,800 tonnes of whale meat and whale blubber have been shipped to Japan, although international trade in whale meat is banned by CITES. However, both Iceland and Japan have made a reservation against this ban.

The support for the fin whale fishing by Iceland's population has been falling for years. A survey conducted by the Icelandic polling firm MMR in 2018 found that only 34 percent of Icelanders support whaling, a decline of 26 percent compared to 2013. 34 percent of the population actively oppose whaling, compared to 18 percent in 2013.

The Icelandic media are also critical of the whaling industry. A recent article in the newspaper Fréttablaðið described Loftsson's idea of turning whale meat into iron supplements as "a desperate excuse to continue whaling."

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