Good news for wildlife activists across the globe—one of the world’s last whaling companies has decided to pull the plug on its annual whale hunt this summer, because of its difficulty to market the meat.
Iceland’s Hvalur company, which has killed 155 fin whales in the waters of far North in 2015, has told Icelandic press Morgunbladid on Wednesday that Japan, its main market for fin whale, has insisted that the meat pass a full chemical analysis before going on market.
According to Hvalur’s CEO Kristjan Loftsson, Japan’s methods of testing whale meat are outdated and make it too difficult to market his products. Norway faced similar issues last year, when Japan found that the country’s whale meat violated health standards, according to Vice News.
“This good news from Iceland is the latest leviathan step in the right direction,” Patrick Ramage, whale programme director at International Fund for Animal Welfare told R&D Magazine. “I bow to Mr. Loftsson’s business acumen, but it is difficult to see how insulting Japanese officials and food safety standards will help persuade decision-makers in Tokyo to import more of his tainted whale meat.”
For more than a decade, IFAW has been working in the Nordic country, alongside Icelandic leaders promoting responsible whale watching and creative development of the ecotourism industry, according to Ramage, who added that the world is moving away from whale killing and toward whale conservation efforts in the 21st-century.
Iceland has killed a total of 706 fin whales since the country resumed commercial whaling in 2006. Its people traditionally don’t eat the meat, which makes it the world’s second largest whale a species hunted with the intention to sell the meat to Japan.
The news on curtailing the fin whale hunt this year could not have made conservationists happier, who have long fought the world’s few remaining commercial whales. Anti-commercial whaling campaigners say the practice is inhumane and hinders conservation efforts. Hunting fin whales per se is particularly controversial since they’re the second-largest mammals on the planet, behind the blue whale.
Fin whales are slimmer and not as heavy as blue whales. Adult mammals are usually 75-85 feet in length. As all other large whales, the fin whale has been heavily hunted in the 20th century and is an endangered species. More than 725,000 fin whales were reportedly taken from the Southern Hemisphere between 1905-1976, and as of 1997 survived by only 38,000. The International Whaling Commission issued a moratorium on commercial hunting of this whale, although Iceland and Japan have resumed hunting. The species is also hunted by Greenlanders under the IWC’s Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling provisions. Global population estimates range from less than 100,000 to roughly 119,000, according to datab.us.
“This is incredible news and a significant blow to the future of the outdated and unnecessary slaughter of whales for profit,” Greenpeace Senior Campaigner Phil Kline said in a prepared statement. “Fin whales are supposed to be under international protection, and both Iceland and Japan have surpluses of whale meat.”
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