Iceland resumes whale hunt

Iceland whalers have resumed their whale hunt, with an endangered fin whale becoming the first kill of the hunting season.

Despite widespread condemnation of the hunt and threats of sanctions against Iceland, the North Atlantic nation has continued to defy a whaling moratorium introduced in 1982.

Conservation groups and campaigners are urging the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and member governments to speak out against the whale hunt after news that whaling company Hvalur hf killed its first endangered fin whale of the year. The whale, hauled in off Iceland’s west coast and landed last week, was taken to the Hvalfjoreur processing station about an hour away from Reykjavik.

The kill coincides with a European Union Environment Council meeting ahead of the IWC summit in September. In 2002, Iceland rejoined the IWC but refused to comply with the moratorium on commercial whaling and eventually resumed its commercial whaling in 2006.

Nearly all the fin whale meat from this season’s hunt will be exported to Japan, even though the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) bans international trade of fin whales. Since 2008, Iceland has exported over 5,540 tonnes of fin whale meat, with a 2,000-tonne shipment sent to Japan in March.

The Animal Welfare Institute Executive Director Susan Millward said the country’s is “consistently eroding” its international reputation by continuing its commercial whaling policy and trading in whale products, both of which violate international treaties.