Encouraging news has reached us overnight from Iceland that the country’s lone fin whaler and fisheries magnate, Kristján Loftsson, has declared he will not resume the hunt for endangered fin whales this summer.
According to Icelandic media reports, and similar to last year, Loftsson is blaming persistent difficulties in the Japanese market as the reason behind his decision to again call off the slaughter. These problems seem mainly linked to increased testing for contaminants in exported whale meat.
Environmental contaminants, such as pesticides and heavy metals, tend to accumulate in top predators like whales and dolphins, meaning that the meat from these animals can negatively impact human health. Japanese officials found that contaminant levels from Icelandic exports were too high for human consumption.
It has previously been reported that much of this imported meat from endangered fin whales has ended up stockpiled in cold storage, with some even being used in dog food products in Japan.
The announcement of no fin whaling in Iceland for a second year is great news for both the whales and for Iceland. Loftsson’s one-man mission to hunt these magnificent creatures is well-documented and in many ways tarnishes Iceland’s international reputation. The very reason Loftsson has had to look to Japan for sales is because Icelanders have no interest in eating fin whale meat.
Unfortunately, today’s positive news is overshadowed by the fact that the whalers will be out in Faxaflói Bay, off Reykjavík, killing minke whales again this summer. Worryingly, these whales are being hunted to feed tourists visiting Iceland, who have been led to believe that whale meat is a traditional Icelandic food. In fact, whale meat consumption is actually very low amongst Icelanders themselves.
If you are planning to visit Iceland, you can help our campaign to protect whales by pledging to not eat whale meat and asking Iceland to stop whaling once and for all.
Image source: M. Cornelius/Shutterstock