Sad but true: Iceland has resumed hunting fin whales

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Despite international condemnation – and diplomatic sanctions imposed by the United States – Iceland resumed its controversial commercial hunt of fin whales after a two-year hiatus.  It just killed and butchered its first fin whale this week.

(Photo courtesy of Greenpeace)

Fin whales are majestic.  Weighing up to 80 tons, they are the second largest animal on the planet (after the blue whale).  Known as the “greyhound of the sea” for their sleek build, fin whales are among the fastest of the baleen whales.

They are also endangered – listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species.

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(Photo courtesy of NOAA)

Fin whales were the victims of decades of commercial slaughter that killed whales by the tens of thousands each year.  With the species on the brink of extinction, the International Whaling Commission adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling. 

Fin whales got a reprieve.

That is, until Iceland decided to hunt them.  Again. 

Over 25 years after the moratorium on commercial whaling took effect, Iceland started commercial whaling again in 2006.  Iceland killed 7 fin whales in 2006, 126 in 2009, and 148 in 2010.

Iceland then cancelled its fin whale hunts in 2011 and 2012 partly because Japan – the primary market for fin whale meat – suffered an economic downturn after of the 2011 tsunami.  

Sadly, Iceland seems to be making up for lost time: it plans to kill up to 184 fin whales this season alone. Iceland plans to ship the whale meat to Japan, where it will join thousands of tons of other unused – and unsellable – whale meat in giant freezers.  Even worse, some of the endangered fin whale meat may end up as luxury dog treats.

It’s unbelievable that these beautiful whales are being killed.  It’s unthinkable that Iceland is killing whales in defiance of international law. And it’s time to take action.

If you want to help end Iceland’s illegal whale hunt, click here and sign our petition. Since international diplomacy has clearly failed, we’re calling on the Obama administration to impose tough economic sanctions on Icelandic whaling companies – and companies with corporate ties to those whaling companies. Because no one should profit from the senseless slaughter of these magnificent creatures.


Photos courtesy of Greenpeace and NOAA respectively