Iceland whale poachers butcher an endangered fin whale. Photo: Halldor Kolbeins / Getty Images

By David Kirby
10 September 2014 

(takepart.com) – While the world’s attention focuses on Japan’s annual dolphin-killing season under way in Taiji, Iceland has been quietly escalating the hunting of endangered fin whales.

But no one seems to be paying much attention, according to a report released Wednesday on the  eve of the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which enforces an international ban on the commercial hunting of whales.

“Iceland’s escalating whale hunts are clear and willful abuses of the IWC’s moratorium as well as the ban on international commercial trade in whale products,” states the report issued by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).

The hunting and export of fin and minke whales in Iceland is strongly opposed by the international community, the report said. “Dozens of governments have agreed to several strongly worded diplomatic protests (démarches) against Iceland since it resumed whaling in 2003.”

But harsh words alone are simply not enough to halt the hunting.

Since 2006, the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf has killed more than 500 fin whales for export to Japan, earning an estimated $50 million. The company’s executive director, Kristján Loftsson, maintained a whaling fleet even as most other whaling nations agreed to abide by the IWC moratorium. To facilitate exports, he partnered with Icelandic fishing giant HB Grandi, where he serves as chairman of the board.

“The impetus for the report was the massive escalation in the hunting and international trade in endangered fin whale products from Iceland to Japan,” Clare Perry, an EIA senior campaigner, said in an email. “This is really the biggest abuse of the IWC’s moratorium, a measure that saved the whales from certain extinction, and to date the IWC has failed to even make a statement about Iceland’s whaling.”

So what can be done?

More diplomatic pressure, for one. Iceland has considered joining the European Union, which forbids members from engaging in whaling. [more]

Why Is the World Ignoring Iceland's Growing Slaughter of Endangered Whales?

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