Sea Shepherd UK
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By Robert Read, COO at Sea Shepherd UK

First fin whale on slipway 22 June 2018First fin whale on slipway 22 June 2018

Sea Shepherd UK crew have been operating in Iceland since mid-June watching the activities of the notorious whaling company ‘Hvalur hf’ owned by the wealthy fishing magnate and second-generation whaler Kristján Loftsson. The whaling company owns a large whaling station on the North side of Hvalfjörður and two old Norwegian built whaling ships, Hvalur 8 (built in 1948) and Hvalur 9 (built in 1952) which exclusively hunt endangered Fin whales, the second largest animal on the planet after the Blue whale.

The 2018 quota given to Hvalur hf by the Icelandic government is for a staggering 161 Fin whales, plus an additional 30 Fin whales carried over from the unused quota from 2017 which can be killed during a 100 day season from the 10th June.

The last time Loftsson’s company hunted Fin whales was in 2015 when his two ships killed 155 whales. However, Loftsson and his company had subsequent issues both when exporting the meat and then within in Japan (the primary market for Icelandic Fin whale meat and products) with Japanese food standards test results showing excessive contaminants which prevented the sale of the whale products from the 2015 hunts. This effectively closed the door on further Icelandic Fin whale imports and his two ships have sat moored in Old Reykjavik harbour from September 2015 until the 19th June this year when Hvalur 8 left Reykjavik, quickly took on equipment at the whaling station in Hvalfjörður (and was photographed by our crew) before venturing to sea on the first hunt of 2018.

Butchering the first fin whale 22 June 2018 at 1amButchering the first fin whale 22 June 2018 at 1am

Hvalur 8 has so far returned with seven endangered Fin whales from five voyages, each taking around 36 hours to whaling grounds within Iceland’s economic exclusion zone around 150 nautical miles from the whaling station. Since June 19th Sea Shepherd crew have maintained a watch of the approach from the into Hvalfjörður and have therefore been in place to document (with video, photos and when possible livestreaming to social media) every return of Hvalur 8 and the butchering of the whales at Hvalur hf’s whaling station.

The whaling ship Hvalur 9 completed repairs on the 27th June and was photographed heading out from Reykjavik harbour in the morning of the 29th June will soon be whaling alongside it's sister ship Hvalur 8 effectively doubling the work for our crew who have travelled to Iceland from four countries to expose this archaic commercial hunting of endangered whales.

The second Fin whale 23 June 2018 The second Fin whale 23 June 2018

The third and fourth Fin whales attached to Hvalur 8 on 25 June 2018The third and fourth Fin whales attached to Hvalur 8 on 25 June 2018

Blood pours from the wound caused by a harpoon on the fifth Fin whale killed 27 June 2018Blood pours from the wound caused by a harpoon on the fifth Fin whale killed 27 June 2018

Sawing if the fifth Fin whale's jawbone at the whaling station 27th June 2018Sawing if the fifth Fin whale's jawbone at the whaling station 27th June 2018

 

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