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Operation Northern Exposure 2022

Sea Shepherd UK’s ‘Operation Northern Exposure 2022’ documenting commercial fin whaling in Icelandic waters

In March 2022, Kristján Loftsson, CEO of the Icelandic whaling company 'Hvalur hf' stated in the Icelandic media that his two ships will once again be hunting threatened Fin whales (the second largest whale species after the blue whale) this summer in the waters around Iceland.

Loftsson previously admitted that his company has been involved in a long tug of war with the Food Administration (MAST) due to issues around hygiene at the whaling station in Hvalfjörður reported previously by Sea Shepherd in 2018. However, because of recent improvements to the facilities and buildings at its whaling station - Hvalur hf once again has a licence to process whale products.

Based on previous whaling season statistics and conversations with Hvalur hf whaling crew, we expect Loftsson's intention is to kill between 140 to 180 fin whales with whaling operations starting later this week.

In 2018, Sea Shepherd UK launched Operation Mjölnir which for the first time documented an entire Icelandic fin whaling season from vantage points around Hvalfjörður

“Minke whaling ended in Icelandic waters over two years ago and it is time Loftsson shut down Hvalur hf’s fin whaling operations. The killing of these majestic fin whales, which only continues today due to one man, is a disgrace brought upon Iceland which is a respected, peaceful, eco-friendly, forward-thinking nation where a significant majority no longer support whaling” - Rob Read, COO at Sea Shepherd UK

This year, Sea Shepherd UK and Sea Shepherd Iceland are partnering on Operation Northern Exposure - a more ambitious campaign to expose the cruelty of the commercial hunting of fin whales around Iceland.

Building upon our experience from the previous campaign in 2018 - our international land crew which arrived in Iceland prior to the start of the whaling season has been working alongside our Icelandic chapter to make sure Loftsson and Hvalur hf cannot kill Fin whales without the world seeing every pregnant whale killed while carrying their unborn calves, every illegally hunted Blue or Blue/Fin hybrid whale, every harpoon embedded in every whale brought back to the whaling station via our online articles, social media posts, news releases and live streams.

"It is with extreme disappointment and disbelief that we watch the blood sport of a shameless and morally bankrupt man come before the health of Icelandic ecosystems, the right of endangered species and sentient individuals to their lives, and even the economy of the nation that depends heavily on keeping these whales alive. Previously kept out of business due to his legal transgressions, Kristján Loftsson has not only repeatedly shown that he considers himself above the law by violating the legal regulations of our country, but he continues to stain the reputation of Iceland internationally by insisting on carrying out senseless killings for which there is zero commercial demand, and which pose an existential threat to our oceans, to marine biodiversity and to our climate. What he chooses to do with our beautiful fjords is turn them into a blood bath. But he forgets that we are still here" - Sea Shepherd Iceland Coordinator

Loftsson's whaling company is on its way out. However, Loftsson intends to continue whaling to the bitter end with his two remaining whaling ships: Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9. These antique whaling ships use explosive harpoons that often do not instantly kill the whales as reported by Sea Shepherd’s ground crew in 2018 when dozens of whales had 2, and sometimes 3 harpoons embedded in them.
This year, Sea Shepherd takes the campaign to the waves to investigate and document Hvalur hf’s whaling ships at sea!

Onboard the ‘Glomar Arctic’, a guard and chase vessel chartered by Sea Shepherd UK, we have a highly experienced media team of photographers, videographers and drone pilots from Scotland, Belgium, France, South Africa and Mexico.

The task of the ‘Arctic’ and the Sea Shepherd media team onboard is to follow Loftsson’s harpoon ships (Hvalur 8 or Hvalur 9) as they hunt the second largest whale on the planet – and for the first time (and hopefully for the last time) to show the cruelty of commercial fin whaling to the world – and most importantly to Icelandic politicians and citizens. With the increased publicity our campaign will bring by showing the reality of whaling at sea, together with pressure already being applied from both within Iceland and from the international community - Hvalur hf’s current 4-year licence block will expire at the end of 2023 (as reported at https://bit.ly/3qt9szc) and will hopefully be never renewed again.

With the arrival of the ‘Glomar Arctic’ - Kristján Loftsson, and Hvalur hf will now be forced to make some tough decisions.

With the ‘Glomar Arctic’ tracking either Hvalur 8 or 9 at sea - will Loftsson’s ship continue to harpoon whales? in which case the world will see the reality of commercial fin whaling.

Will Loftsson decide to not kill these majestic whales under the scrutiny of our cameras - or run for more distant whaling grounds increasing the time and costs of his whaling – in which case whales may be saved.

Sea Shepherd calls on the majority anti-whaling people of Iceland, Icelandic politicians, the Icelandic media, marine conservation / environmental NGO’s operating in Iceland, the Icelandic tourism industry, the whale watching companies and everyone who wants to bring an end to commercial fin whaling – to come together this year for the whales.

Please support our Operation Northern Exposure, both our ship crew and land based Icelandic and foreign volunteers, by sharing Operation Northern Exposure’s news, videos, photos, and livestreams wherever and to whomever you can.

Please email or write polite letters voicing your support for Iceland's whale watching industry and its anti-whaling majority, and request the end of all whaling around Iceland to both:

Katrín Jakobsdóttir PM
Prime Minister of Iceland
The Prime Minister's Office
Stjornarradshusid vid Laekjartorg
101 Reykjavik , Iceland

E-mail: postur@for.is

and to:

The Icelandic Tourism Board
Geirsgata 9
101 Reykjavík, Iceland
E-mail: upplysingar@ferdamalastofa.is

Contacts:

Media enquiries - media@seashepherduk.org
Sea Shepherd UK - report@seashepherduk.org
Sea Shepherd Iceland - iceland@seashepherdglobal.org

Help support our campaign and crew by donating to Sea Shepherd at: https://www.seashepherd.org.uk/support-us/donate-monthly.html

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