A new report today calls for the international community and vested commercial interests to take tough action to end Iceland's ongoing slaughter of endangered fin whales.
'Slayed in Iceland: The commercial hunting and international trade in endangered fin whales' has been jointly released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) on the eve of the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Portorož, Slovenia.
Iceland's fin whale hunt revolves around Kristján Loftsson, a multi-millionaire and the Executive Director of Hvalur hf. In his bid to create a viable market for fin whale products in Japan, he has used the resources of another company for which he serves as Chair of the Board – Icelandic fishing giant HB Grandi.
The report exposes the sheer scale of the hunt and overseas trade, as well as the financial and logistical links between the whalers and some of Iceland's largest companies. It includes recommended actions for governments and corporations to take to ensure that they are not supporting Hvalur's whaling activities.
Fin whales – the second largest creature on the planet, after blue whales – were for decades the target of industrial-scale commercial whaling, an unbridled slaughter curtailed in 1986 by the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling. Almost three decades later, fin whales remain endangered.
Iceland's fin exports to date are worth an estimated US$50 million and clearly undermine both the IWC moratorium and the ban on international commercial trade in fin whale products imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry said:
"Since 2006, Hvalur has killed more than 500 fin whales, purely to cash in on a limited demand in Japan. It has exported more than 5,000 tonnes of fin whale products to Japan, including a record single shipment of 2,071 tonnes in 2014.
"This ongoing and escalating slaughter is not only a contemptuous slap in the face to international efforts to conserve whales, it's a spreading bloodstain on Iceland's international credibility and it needs to end now."
AWI Executive Director Susan Millward said:
"Iceland's Hvalur company continues to whale with impunity and has managed to ship whale products to Japan via countries that have strong anti-whaling laws, such as the United States. Governments must work to ensure that their ports are permanently closed to the transit of whale products from protected species."
And WDC Chief Executive Officer Chris Butler-Stroud said:
"Efforts by HB Grandi to distance itself from fin whaling activities are revealed as mere smoke and mirrors –our report demonstrates that the company remains hand-in-glove with the fin whalers.
"Given that a recent poll suggests massive public opposition to the notion of purchasing seafood linked with whaling, we hope that our report, combined with falling profits, persuades HB Grandi and companies purchasing from it to urgently re-examine their position."
Slayed in Iceland strongly urges the IWC, governments and businesses dealing with Icelandic companies linked to whaling to take action to compel Iceland to cease commercial whaling and trade.