ORCA condemns the killing of endangered fin whales as Icelandic whaling ships set sail.
After a two year hiatus, Iceland has carried out its threat to resume whaling with the vessel “Hvalur 8” leaving Rekjavik to begin a hunt yesterday. Iceland’s only remaining fin whaling company, Hvalur-hf, announced in April that they would be seeking to kill as many as 200 of the endangered whales this year.
Fin whales are categorised as Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), with a population estimated to be less than 20% of pre-whaling numbers. Despite this, on 17 April 2018, the Icelandic government approved a slaughter quota of 191 fin-whales, with Hvalur-hf beginning their whaling season this week.
ORCA have been monitoring fin whales populations in Europe for decades and have observed more than 1000 individual animals during their citizen science surveys.
“Iceland’s decision to allow the ship to sail flies in the face of international opinion. It’s both sad and infuriating that we still see this barbaric practice in a modern society like Iceland, rather than having banished it to the past where it belongs” said ORCA Director, Sally Hamilton.
They seem unwilling to listen to the growing voices of protest and indignation, but in doing so they appear increasingly out of step with the rest of the global community”
Fin whales are the second largest animal on the planet, reaching lengths of 27metres, and are found in waters across the world. They have historically been targeted by the whaling industry but are also at risk from ship-strikes and overfishing, as well as a range of other threats.
ORCA have been monitoring fin whales as a part of their volunteer network of marine mammal surveyors. These volunteers board ferries and cruises ships across Europe and monitor populations of whales, dolphins and porpoises to help inform policy and create safer spaces for marine life.