Icelandic whalers condemned over blue whale ‘slaughter’ claims

Blue whale Iceland Whaling

A Scottish animal rights charity has criticised an Icelandic whaler after activists released footage that they claim shows the killing of the first endangered blue whale in 50 years, highlights this article from The Ferret.

Volunteers with Sea Shepherd have been monitoring the Hvalur hf whaling station in Hvalfjordur, Iceland, for several weeks and claimed yesterday to have evidence that a blue whale was killed and butchered on the 7 July.

Kristján Loftsson, who runs a commercial whaling company, denied the allegations and said the whale in question was a “hybrid whale”.

The blue whale is the largest animal known to have existed but during the 20th century the species was almost exterminated due to commercial whaling.

The population has slowly recovered following a global whaling ban but it remains endangered and faces a number of serious threats including ship strikes and the impact of climate change.

Releasing video footage and photos, Sea Shepherd claimed they reveal the slaughter of a blue whale. The group said it was the “22nd endangered whale killed and butchered for export to Japan” by Loftsson’s company since 20 June 2018.

Sea Shepherd UK said that the first 21 whales killed were “endangered fin whales” which the Icelandic government has permitted Loftsson’s company to slaughter, despite an international moratorium on whaling. But people are not permitted to kill blue whales, even within Iceland.

No other nations – including Japan and Norway – slaughter fin whales, Sea Shepherd added, claiming there has not been a blue whale harpooned for the last fifty years.


Sarah Moyes, of the Scottish animal welfare charity, OneKind, said that they were, “deeply concerned by the shocking news.”

The International Whaling Commission has outlawed all commercial whaling activities and both blue whales and fin whales are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Photographs and video taken by Sea Shepherd’s team near the whaling station made it possible, activists said, to “examine the species identifying indicators of skin colour/pattern, baleen colour, dorsal fin shape, and tail stock”.

Sea Shepherd UK said that Loftsson’s whaling station crew posed for photos next to – and on top of the whale – indicating “they knew very well this was a rare blue whale”.

“Then Loftsson ordered his crew to butcher the whale just like it was another fin whale – the meat, skin, blubber and bone all now mixed in with the fin whales previously caught, which will make it difficult or impossible to locate during potential inspections by the authorities,” a statement added.

Sea Shepherd has had a crew on the ground in Iceland since the slaughter of fin whales began on 20 June. The aim is to document every whale killed during the fin whaling season.

Moyes from OneKind, said: “We’re deeply concerned by the shocking news that a blue whale has been cruelly slaughtered by the Hvalur hf whaling station in Iceland. It is especially tragic given this was the first blue whale to be harpooned in fifty years.

“There is no justification at all for killing an endangered species, and it’s clear work needs to be done to ensure other blue whales are not at risk of slaughter by Icelandic whalers in the future.”

Read the full article Icelandic whalers condemned over blue whale ‘slaughter’ claims at The Ferret.

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