The first two fin whales caught this season were processed at Hvalfjördur, west Iceland, on Friday. The whale workers were a bit out of practice and others new to the field—26 years have passed since large-scale fin whale hunting took place in Iceland.
CEO of whaling company Hvalur, Kristján Loftsson (left), and former Minister of Fisheries Einar G. Gudfinnsson, who issued the fin whale quota for the current season, with a slain fin whale in Hvalfjördur in 2006. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
Later in the weekend, two other fin whales were caught and processed at the Hvalfjördur whaling station, Morgunbladid reports.
A quota was issued for 150 fin whales this year, while only seven were caught in 2006. Kristján Loftsson, CEO of the whaling company Hvalur, told Morgunbladid that he was delighted to see Hvalur’s facilities come alive again with working men.
“Most of them are completely new to the field but there are some workers here who were with us in the old days, and they are teaching the others,” Loftsson said. Nearly 100 people will work on fin whaling hunting and processing this summer.
Representatives of Japanese companies who plan to import the Icelandic fin whale meat were present during the processing; carrying their own knives to taste the meat and to grade the different cuts.
“They were always with us in the old days and will probably stay for the summer,” Loftsson said.
The two whales that were killed on Friday were female, 61 and 68-feet-long and caught close to the shore, “at an old traditional trail,” Loftsson said. “They saw around 80 other animals so whales can definitely be found around there.”
“The government has dismally failed to show leadership despite its own outspoken opposition to the hunt. This morning [Friday], its reputation and that of Iceland as a whole was sliced and diced by a single company special interest lobby,” said Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Whales Campaign Coordinator, in a press release.
“It is clear that the whaling policy in Iceland is really run by the whaler Kristján Loftsson and his company Hvalur ehf. But what little profit he may make from this fin whale hunt will come at great cost to Iceland—economically and politically,” Holden added.
Greenpeace representatives visited Iceland earlier this month, carrying a recording of a telephone conversation with the main importer of whale meat in Japan, saying there was no market for the product.
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