Endangered fin whale killed in Iceland

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) announces an Icelandic media report that the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf has killed an endangered fin whale today in defiance of the international ban on commercial whaling. The whale was killed some 150 nautical miles off Iceland’s west coast, and is expected to be landed at the company’s whaling station in Hvalfjordur, less than an hour’s drive north of Reykjavik.

The hunt, the first in two years, took place just two weeks after a coalition of groups including AWI, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Iruka & Kujira [Dolphin & Whale] Action Network and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, revealed that whale products from Hvalur hf were ending up as dog treats in Japan, sparking international outcry.

In response to the killing, Susan Millward, executive director of AWI, said, “Contrary to statements from Icelandic government officials, these majestic animals, second in size only to the blue whale, are not ‘Icelandic,’ they belong to no one country. Fin whales are highly migratory, endangered, and are protected under a number of international treaties.”

Millward continued, “Today’s killing of an endangered fin whale makes it absolutely clear that years of international diplomatic efforts have failed, and that Iceland is determined to act as a rogue whaling nation, no matter the cost to its tourism and seafood industries.”

The fin whale killed today will be processed at the Hvalfjordur whaling station, with the blubber and offal rendered into oil. The meat from the giant animal, which can weigh between 40 and 70 tons, will then be dispatched for further cutting, packing and freezing to facilities owned by Hvalur hf.

One of the sites likely to be used is a building that belongs to Hvalur-subsidiary HB Grandi, Iceland’s leading seafood company. Fin whale meat from the previous commercial whale hunts in 2006, 2009 and 2010 was cut and boxed there, prior to being shipped to Japan.

“Just as the whalers have trained their sights on these fin whales, international consumers will be taking a closer look at where their seafood originates. HB Grandi and other Icelandic companies linked to Iceland’s whaling interests will find themselves in the crosshairs of an international backlash against this cruel and unnecessary industry,” Millward added.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.