Fin whales in Icelandic waters will be killed for profit for the first time in four years this summer, as Icelandic whalers announced their intention to hunt fin whales in 2022.
Kristjan Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur hf, told AFP: "I can confirm that we plan to go out to sea this summer. The whales are waiting for us."
The company, which is the last remaining whaling company in Iceland, hasn’t hunted fin whales since 2018, but the statement suggests that Loftsson intends hunts to resume when the season begins in mid-June.
The announcement comes just weeks after Fisheries Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir suggested that Iceland was planning to end fin whale quotas when the current round expires in 2024.
“There are few justifications to authorise the whale hunt beyond 2024,” Svavarsdottir wrote in Morgunbladid newspaper. “There is little proof that there is any economic advantage to this activity.”
Fin whale quotas for Iceland were set at 209 animals per year for the period 2019 to 2023, but with domestic demand dropping the industry relies on export to Japan, as well as whale meat consumed by tourists, to justify the continued hunts.
However, with Japan resuming commercial whaling in 2019 export demand has declined, and Loftsson has also been in an extended dispute with Icelandic authorities over a license for his processing plant, which has now been resolved.
Lucy Babey, ORCA’s Head of Science & Conservation, said: “After positive signs from the Icelandic government that fin whales in their waters would finally be safe, this is devastating news for animals which are still recovering from mass slaughter throughout a large part of the 20th Century.”
“ORCA believe that commercial whaling has no place in a civilised society, and to brutally murder animals which play such a crucial role in keeping the oceans healthy is barbaric and wrong.”
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) have launched a campaign to urge members of the public to send a letter to the Icelandic Prime Minister protesting this decision. We’re encouraging ORCA members to download the letter here to show our support for an end to whaling in Iceland in 2022 so that we can prevent more barbaric deaths of fin whales.