Monday, 29 February 2016

No fin whales to be hunted in Iceland this summer

Director of country’s biggest whaling company says his fleet will not be hunting this season because of problems exporting the meat to Japan

Thursday 25 February 2016 15.26 GMTLast modified on Thursday 25 February 201618.37 GMT

Conservationists are hopeful that an end to commercial whaling in Iceland has moved one step closer following media reports that no fin whales will be hunted there this summer.

Kristjan Loftsson, the director of Iceland’s largest whaling company, told daily newspaper Morgunbladid on Wednesday that Hvalur HF would not be sending out vessels to slaughter the endangered whales this season because of difficulties exporting the meat to the Japanese market.

Last year, Loftsson’s whaling company is reported to have killed 155 fin whales, and a total of 706 since Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006. Icelanders traditionally do not eat meat from fin whales, making the world’s second largest whale a species hunted specifically with a view for sale in Japan.

According to reports, Loftsson has faced increased difficulty in his whaling activities in recent years due to a combination of logistical problems, a falling market for whale meat and increased international opposition to whaling.

Last year’s fin whaling season, which usually begins in mid-June, was delayed because of a strike by veterinary inspectors. At the same time, the company’s attempts to ship 1,700 tonnes of whale meat to Japan via Angola were hampered by the reluctance of some foreign ports to allow transit of the meat. A similarly controversial delivery of 2,000 tonnes in 2014 sparked protests and was turned away from several ports.

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