Since Iceland caught its first whale back in mid-June, the country has taken a total of 88 endangered fin whales for their meat. The catch, which was brought to a processing station on shore this week, is roughly half of the allotted 154 whales that the country has set for itself during its 3-month whaling season.
The catch is a slight decline from the same point in the season last year — yet it is still in defiance of the International Whaling Commission’s global moratorium on whaling, which nearly all countries adhere to. Only Iceland, Norway and Japan still conduct commercial whale hunts.
Fin whales, once coveted by 19th century whalers for their oil, blubber and baleen, are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List. The country recently tried to defend its whaling practices, calling them “sustainable,” saying that their total catch was only 0.8 percent of the stock size for fin whales — though many pointed out that hunting endangered species is usually not sustainable. It also set a quota for 229 common minke whales this year.
Iceland resumed whaling under a loophole in the IWC moratorium in 2006. The meat is marketed almost exclusively to consumers in Japan — though a recent AP investigation reported that meat was piling up unsold in freezers. Fisheries Agency statistics showed that 4,600 tons of meat were piled up in freezers at the end of 2012.
Learn more about Iceland’s whaling campaign and send a letter to the White House urging President Barack Obama to impose sanctions on Iceland for its program here.