Greenpeace criticises 'immoral' resumption in Icelandic commercial whaling
Reykjavik, June 19, 2013 – Greenpeace has strongly criticised the resumption of commercial fin whaling by Icelandic whaler Kristján Loftsson, whose company plans to hunt up to 180 fin whales this summer in an operation backed by the Icelandic government.
The first fin whale, a 68 foot long male caught by the whaler Hvalur 8, was butchered in the port of Hvalfjörður, outside Reykjavik on Tuesday night.
Greenpeace is opposed to the commercial hunt, stressing that the operation is being carried out despite a ban on commercial whaling introduced by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The fin whale is also listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.
"It is deeply regrettable that a single Icelandic whaler backed by the government undermines the global ban on commercial whaling, which is needed to secure the future of the world's whales," said Martin Norman, campaigner at Greenpeace Nordic.
Iceland is a member of the IWC, the intergovernmental body charged with the global management of whaling, but Reykjavik refuses to accept the zero catch limits for commercial whaling.
"When an IWC member is trying to circumvent the global management in this way, we are out on a slippery slope. These whales do not belong to Iceland exclusively and the unilateral approach is immoral and unacceptable," said Martin Norman.
The resumption in whaling, coinciding with the high season for whale watching, has led to strong protests from the Icelandic tourism industry. Voicing its objections, the Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF) has also said that "it is clear that whale watching delivers more to the economy than commercial whaling will ever do".
In addition, whaling clearly has a negative impact on the image of Iceland abroad. In the Netherlands, environmental group Avaaz recently delivered a petition with 1.1 million signatures to the Dutch government calling for a ban on the transfer of Icelandic whale meat in Dutch ports.
The Icelandic whale hunt is entirely for export to Japan, where the whale meat market has collapsed. The whale meat from the Icelandic 2010 hunt has recently been used for luxury dog food in Japan and there is also no market for fin whale meat in Iceland.