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Iceland kills first endangered fin whale of season

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Icelandic media confirmed that the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf killed an endangered fin whale Monday in defiance of the international ban on commercial whaling reported News of Iceland on June 18.

The whale was killed 150 nautical miles off Iceland’s west coast.

The fin whale hunt is the first in two years and took place two weeks after a coalition of groups—including the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the Environmental Investigation Agency, Iruka & Kujira [Dolphin & Whale] Action Network, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation—revealed that whale products from Hvalur hf were ending up as dog treats in Japan, sparking international outcry.

Over one million people have signed the anti-whaling petition organized by the international group Avaaz to try to ban the transfer of Icelandic fin whale meat through Dutch ports amid revelations that some of it is used for dog food products in Japan.

Hvalur killed 148 fin whales in 2010, but none in 2011 and 2012 because of the breakdown of its only market in Japan due to the earthquake and tsunami. Iceland plans to kill up to 180 fin whales this season.

The killed fin whale will be processed at the Hvalfjörður whaling station, with the blubber and offal rendered into oil. The whale can weigh 40-70 tons and provides approximately 15 tons of meat. It will then be dispatched for further cutting, packing and freezing to facilities owned by Hvalur hf.

Fin whale meat from the previous commercial whale hunts in 2006, 2009 and 2010 were cut and boxed at a building that belongs to Hvalur-subsidiary HB Grandi, Iceland’s leading seafood company. The meat was then shipped to Japan.

“Today’s killing of an endangered fin whale makes it absolutely clear that years of international diplomatic efforts have failed, and that Iceland is determined to act as a rogue whaling nation, no matter the cost to this species, and to the country’s own tourism and seafood industries," said Susan Millward, Executive Director of Animal Welfare Institute.

Fin whales are the second largest animal on earth after the blue whale and are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species.

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