Endangered fin whales can breathe a sigh of relief: the director of Iceland's only fin whaling company said that his fleet would not hunt fin whales this season because of difficulties exporting the whale meat to Japan.
This is great news for whales, and whale lovers alike!
In an interview, KristjÃ¡n Loftsson (head of Hvalur hf, Iceland's fin whaling company) announced there would be no hunting of endangered fin whales this summer due to the "endless obstacles" he's faced trying to sell Icelandic whale meat in Japan. According to Loftsson, Japan is using outdated standards for imported whale meat, which he cannot meet. Japan is Iceland's primary market for fin whale meat.
Export obstacles aren't the only problems facing Icelandic whaling.
Icelandic whaling is operating in the red, faced with a non-existent domestic market for fin whale meat, and confronted by strong international and economic opposition.
Due to intense international opposition and local protests, many of the world's ports are denying access to Iceland's shipments of whale meat and products bound for Japan. For instance, South Africa and Rotterdam have both closed their ports to Iceland's shipments of whale meat.
In addition, our Don't Buy From Icelandic Whalers campaign continues to call on the Obama Administration to impose targeted economic sanctions against Icelandic companies profiting from commercial whaling and trade in whale products. We have identified several Icelandic companies as potential targets for trade sanctions, including major seafood industry players doing business in the United States that are directly tied to Iceland's whaling industry. We have also secured pledges from seafood import companies and prominent retailers not to buy seafood from Icelandic companies tied to whaling. Many shipping companies have also pledged not to transport whale meat or products.
Finally, public support for whaling and consumption of whale meat in Iceland is at an all-time low, whereas whale watching is now one of the top tourist attractions in Iceland.
Whatever the reason, cancelling this year's fin whale hunt is great news - for the whales, for the millions of people who love whales, and ultimately for Iceland.
Even better news would be world where whales can swim safely, free from the threat of harpoons. We encourage Mr. Loftsson to use this opportunity to end fin whaling for good.