Iceland resumed the hunt for fin whales, the world’s second largest animal, despite its endangered status and international trade ban under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). There are several articles featured online that expresses disgust and outrage toward Iceland’s actions. As of yesterday, a total of two fin whales have been slaughtered according to Veganbluebell’s Twitter feed.
Ironically, there is no sustainable or profitable market for fin whale products in Iceland. Instead, the major market is Japan. In addition, MMR, an Icelandic polling company, reported that only 34% of the population supports whaling, which represents a 26% drop from five years ago.
The fin whale is found throughout Alaska, New England/Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Islands, Southeast and the West Coast. They are considered an endangered species with about 82,000 living in the southern hemisphere and between 14,000 to 18,000 living in the North Pacific. Over hunting was the main reason for the fin whale’s decline. However, since commercial whaling ended in the 1970s and 1980s, the main threats are now vessel strikes, getting entangled in commercial fishing gear, reduced prey from over-fishing and man-made ocean noise.
Millionaire Kristjan Loftsoon and his company “Hvalur hf” are in charge of the hunt which has an estimated quota of 239 kills. Loftsoon plans to market whale meat, blubber and bones for iron supplements and other medicinal or food products.