Icelandic news outlets are reporting that an Icelandic whaling company, Hvalur hf, "caught its first fin whale yesterday evening," after sailing out yesterday with two boats, both due back in port today.
Fin whales are the second-largest whale, and are classified as an Endangered species.
From News of Iceland:
The whale quota is for 154 fin whales but 20% of unused quota from last season can be added to that number, so possibly a total of 180 whales will be caught. Since 2009 there has been in effect a five year licence to catch the species so that licence expires this year. All of the products from the fin whales will be sent to Japan, except for the fish meal and the fish oil, they are for human consumption. Around 200 people will be employed because of the whale hunting, at land and sea. The products will be processed at three locations in Iceland: Hvalfjord, Hafnarfjord and Akranes.
The Animal Welfare Institute, one of many animal advocacy groups protesting the hunting of this endangered species in Iceland, issued a press release condemning the kill:
Susan Millward, executive director of AWI, said, "Contrary to statements from Icelandic government officials, these majestic animals, second in size only to blue whales, are not 'Icelandic'; they belong to no one country. Fin whales are highly migratory, endangered, and are protected under a number of international treaties.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 this species, and to the country's own tourism and seafood industries."
From Agence France Press:
Fin whales are the second largest whale species after the blue whale. Iceland also hunts minke whales, a smaller species. That hunt began in May, and so far seven minke whales have been harpooned, whaling officials said.
The International Whaling Commission imposed a global moratorium on whaling in 1986 amid alarm at the declining stock of the marine mammals.
Iceland, which resumed commercial whaling in 2006, and Norway are the only two countries still openly practising commercial whaling in defiance of the moratorium.
Japan also hunts whales but insists this is only for scientific purposes even if most of the meat ends up on the market for consumption.