Iceland’s multi-millionaire rogue whaler Kristján Loftsson and his company Hvalur hf have resumed their slaughter of endangered fin whales in blunt defiance of the international ban on commercial whaling.
The hunt is Iceland’s first in three years and marks the start of a whaling season that could see as many as 239 of these majestic creatures killed.
A 67ft fin whale – landed overnight at the whaling station in Hvalfjörður, Iceland – became the first kill of the new season.
Hvalur CEO Loftsson recently sparked outrage when he announced plans to resume his hunt of the second largest animal on the planet and to market fin whale meat, blubber and bones for iron supplements and other medicinal or food products.
For the first time since it resumed commercial whaling in 2006, Iceland’s self-allocated fin whaling quota allows whalers to expand their hunt to waters east of the country.
Fin whale meat is not popular in Iceland; the major market is Japan. Since 2008, more than 8,800 tonnes of whale meat and blubber have been shipped to Japan, despite the ban on international trade in whale meat under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Ocean campaigns leader Clare Perry said: “It is unfathomable in this day and age that a country so well known for its nature tourism is tarnishing its image by allowing commercial whaling to continue in the face of growing domestic and international opposition.
“We are urging the Icelandic Government to recognise that this unnecessary and unsustainable industry brings no real benefits to Iceland’s economy and to refuse further whaling quotas.”
According to recent tax filings, Hvalur’s whaling has not made a profit for some time. It is the company’s indirect shareholdings in other corporations that allow whaling to continue. Hvalur draws profits from well-known Icelandic corporations, such as IT firm Origo hf. and fishing gear giant, Hampiðjan.
At the same time, public support for fin whaling is plummeting. A 2018 survey by Icelandic polling company, MMR, found only 34 per cent of Icelanders support whaling, a 26 per cent drop from 2013; 34 per cent of the population actively oppose whaling, compared to 18 per cent in 2013.