Fin whales are the second largest animals in the world, after blue whales. They are sleek and swift, not as bulky as their larger cousins. Usually solitary, fin whales are occasionally seen migrating in pods as large as 300 individuals. They typically live for up to 90 years.
Fin whales are also endangered in the north Atlantic. More than 750,000 have been killed in the 20th century, decimating a once-vibrant worldwide population. Instead of responding to their tenuous existence by showing restraint and care, one country has only stepped up hunting them.
Last year alone, Iceland’s whaling fleet killed more than 135 endangered fin whales off its coast. Most of its haul is intended for the morbid, Japanese commercial market for whale meat.
Iceland’s fleet has killed over 700 whales in all since it reinstated hunting them in 2003, exploiting loopholes in the International Whaling Commission’s ban on commercial whaling and openly flouting the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The nation is poised to resume hunting again this year, when the season opens in late spring or early summer.
However there is something we can all do about it. Thanks to the pressure from committed Greenpeace supporters like you, the US government has finally spoken out publicly against Iceland’s illegal whaling, announcing that it recognizes Iceland’s actions are undermining the effectiveness of CITES. The ball is now in President Obama’s court.
He has the option to begin targeted economic or trade sanctions on Icelandic companies that have direct links to their whaling. Americans love whales and would be appalled to learn the fish filet they just purchased is lining the pockets of the same people responsible for killing endangered fin whales.
The action of Greenpeace supporters is crucial. President Obama has had the chance to impose trade sanctions on Iceland for its whaling before but declined. Two years ago, his administration did impose diplomatic sanctions, but they have not deterred Iceland from its continued hunting of fin whales. It’s time to increase the pressure on Iceland’s whalers.