Iceland’s Rogue Whale Killer Is Up to No Good—Again

by Phil Kline

May 21, 2015

Iceland is one of the last countries to allow commercial whaling. Now its most notorious whaler has been caught hunting endangered fin whales once again.

Documentation on Whaling in Iceland

First fin whales brought to land. The boat, Hvalur 9, is entering Hvalfjordur-fjord. The first fin whale that was cut was female and 18 meters long.

© Greenpeace

Multiple international agreements to ban commercial whaling and stop the trade in endangered species haven’t stopped Iceland’s Kristjan Loftsson. The multi-millionaire continues to thumb his nose at the international community and slaughter endangered fin whales for sale to Japan.

Loftsson and his company Hvalur have repeatedly been caught exporting whale meat from Iceland to Japan. He and his crew target the endangered fin whale, whose global population has plummeted to less than 90,000 due to commercial whaling.

This week, the International Fund for Animal Welfare reported that Loftsson is at it again, loading 1,700 metric tons of fin whale meat on the Winter Bay cargo ship bound for sale in Japan. Right now, the Winter Bay and its load of fin whale meat are stuck in the Hafnarfjordur harbor due to a mechanical failure.

This leaves a small but crucial window of opportunity to raise awareness about Iceland’s continued commercial whaling, and re-engage governments and the public to pressure Iceland to end commercial fin whaling.

The Next Chapter in the Fight to Save the Whales

Governments and environmental leaders have been calling for an end to the barbaric practice of commercial whaling for decades. Japan, Iceland and Norway remain the only three countries to openly oppose the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 ban on commercial whaling.

At the same time, the market for whale meat has virtually disappeared in recent years. A 2013 poll indicates that only 3 percent of Icelanders regularly eat whale meat, and the percentage of tourists who say they have tasted whale meat has fallen from 40 percent in 2009 to 18 percent in 2014.

The slaughter of fin whales in Iceland is NOT for subsistence needs or even to support Icelandic cultural traditions. It is strictly a for-profit business driven by one greedy individual.

President Obama, Honor Your Promise to End Commercial Whaling

When he took office in 2008, President Obama made a commitment to end commercial whaling. Now, he needs to honor that commitment by increasing US pressure on Iceland from the current diplomatic sanctions to stronger economic ones. We cannot let criminals like Loftsson continue their greedy and barbaric practices without feeling the pressure of the international community.

While You’re At It, Meet an Endangered Fin Whale!

Never heard of fin whales? They’re pretty amazing. After blue whales, fin whales are the second-largest mammals in the world, and grow to be about 65 to 80 feet long. With their population dwindling due to commercial whaling—as well as habitat loss linked to pollution and ocean warming—fin whales have been listed internationally as endangered since 2007.

Check out underwater video from the World Wildlife Fund of these fin whales in the Mediterranean Sea:

Phil Kline

By Phil Kline

Phil is a senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA. He is a recognized expert on oceans policy domestically and internationally, and has represented Greenpeace U.S. at International Whaling Commission (IWC) meetings and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meetings around the globe.

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