The shortened Icelandic fin whale hunts season has finished with a final total of 23 whales killed, 1 unborn calf killed and 1 whale lost.
This year the hunting season, which normally starts in June, began on the 1st of September due to the suspension of hunting permits, by Iceland’s Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, because of animal welfare violations in the 2022 hunt. These new hunts were just as cruel. Employees of the whaling company were recently observed dragging a dead whale fetus from the carcass of his or her mother after being brought to shore.
In Icelandic law, the killing of pregnant fin whales is not illegal, although it is illegal to kill cows who are still nursing or weaning a calf. The killing of this pregnant fin whale came just days after The Food and Veterinary Authority suspended the hunting permit of one of the two whaling ships (Hvalur 8). When firing a harpoon, whalers on Hvalur 8 missed the recommended “designated target area”, on a hunted fin whale, which is meant to ensure the whale dies instantly. This whale then suffered for more than 30 minutes before he or she was shot again. Based on the evidence seen during this brief return to whaling, hunting conditions have not improved since the welfare led whaling suspension was lifted. It now remains to be seen if the government grant permits for hunting in December for the 2024 season.
In recent years Kristján Loftsson, owner of the Hvalur hf. whaling company, has struggled to find a market for the hunted whale meat, with some meat even ending up as dog food in Japan. Hvalur hf. has exported more than 13,738 tons of fin whale since 2008.
We will continue our work with partners in Iceland to seek and end to the hunts for good.