Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf have recently started their annual hunt of fin whales. On 7th July, workers were seen bringing a huge, blue-coloured whale ashore to be processed. Thanks to observers from environmental group Sea Shepherd who saw the whale being taken ashore at the Hvalur facility, a group of international scientists demanded confirmation of the species. A DNA test was conducted by the Icelandic government's Marine and Freshwater Research Institute confirmed the whale is a hybrid, resulting from the offspring of a female blue whale and a male fin whale. Iceland does not offer hunting permits for this species of whale and researchers say these hybrids are rare and trading their meat is illegal.
Despite their status as endangered species, Iceland continues to hunt fin whales in order to export the meat to Japan. Not only are fin whales protected, this incident shows that whalers lack the knowledge to 'safely' target the 'correct' species. We must stop Iceland from continuing the fin whale hunt.
Project Jonah has written a letter to the Icelandic Prime Minister demanding she changes the law in order to ban the hunting of all whale species, and we have also sent a separate letter to New Zealand's representative to the International Whaling Commission, Amy Laurenson.
Commissioner Laurenson has provided a strong and consistent voice against commercial whaling, and we want to show her the strength of feeling is still present in New Zealand when it comes to this issue. With the Iceland incident fresh in our minds and Japan pushing to relax laws on whaling even further, the time to act is now.Join us in writing to New Zealand's representative to the International Whaling committee.
Dear Commissioner Laurenson,
The death of a rare blue/fin whale hybrid at the hands of the Icelandic Hvalur whaling company highlights the continued importance of international efforts to protect whales from commercial hunting.
With Japan's proposal to relax international whaling laws at the September International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, now is the time to take a stronger stance than ever against commercial whaling. Their proposal, that the populations of certain whale species have increased sufficiently to legitimise commercial hunting, is short-sighted and dangerous.
The history of human impact upon whales is evident to all. We hunted many species to the brink of extinction, and to not learn those lessons by allowing the recommencement of commercial whaling would be inexcusable.
Whether it is the bycatch of one scientifically important hybrid, or the capture of 122 pregnant minke whales as part of Japan’s research programme earlier this year, it is clear that what goes on aboard whaling vessels, even in their relatively limited current capacity, is uncontrollable.
Zero tolerance becomes the only way forward.
I hope to see you, as New Zealand’s representative to the IWC, remain as strong and outspoken as you have been in the past in protecting whale species across the globe, and working with other nations to end the barbaric practice of whaling once and for all.