Workers butchering a fin whale at Miosandur whaling station, Hvalfjordur, Iceland (August 2014)

Iceland’s rogue whaler ships more fin whale meat to Japan

One man’s mission to slaughter and exploit endangered fin whales continues to maul Iceland’s international reputation with news of a new shipment of whale meat from Kristján Loftsson’s company Hvalur to Japan.

In recent days, EIA and its campaign partners have kept watch on a vessel near Reykjavik, loaded with 1,700 tonnes of whale meat.

The Icelandic daily Eyjan has reported that the meat was loaded aboard the Winter Bay two weeks ago but its departure has been delayed due to a mechanical problem.

The consignment is due to be shipped via Luanda in Angola to Japan, where multi-millionaire Loftsson has used his own funds to set up a company to import and market fin whale meat as a delicacy.

This shipment adds to over 5,500 tonnes of fin whale meat and blubber that has been shipped to Japan over the past few years. A similar shipment last year of over 2,000 tonnes of fin whale meat ran into controversy when protests in South Africa caused the ship to skip refuelling in Durban and instead do so in Mauritius.

Iceland rejoined the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 2002 with a reservation to the global moratorium on commercial whaling adopted in 1982, and then resumed commercial whaling in 2006.

Almost all the fin whale meat originating from its hunts is destined for Japan, despite a ban on international trade in fin whales under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Clare Perry, head of EIA’s Oceans Campaign, said: “It is totally unacceptable that one wealthy individual can be allowed to persecute such a magnificent, endangered species for personal gain to feed a dwindling market demand many thousands of miles away which he is artificially stimulating and maintaining.

“Because of the actions of this one company, Iceland is a rogue whaling nation which arguably does more than any other to undermine both the IWC and CITES, which protect all great whales from hunting and international trade.

“It is long past time that Iceland’s Government recognises its international obligations and directly intervenes to put an end to Kristján Loftsson’s whaling activities – activities which fly in the face of collective world opinion and do nothing but harm to the reputation of this otherwise progressive nation.”

* Learn more about Iceland’s whaling in the EIA reports Renegade Whaling and Slayed in Iceland.