Iceland halts whaling ship after fin whale is killed too slowly

Animal news: Protestors end 24-hour blockade on whaling ships in Iceland
Fin whale, photo: Canva

Iceland has temporarily halted the activities of one of its two whaling ships because it took too long to kill a fin whale, according to officials and the vessel’s owner on Friday.

A few weeks back, the country ended a two-month pause in its whale hunting activities. This pause was initiated after findings revealed that the process of killing a whale exceeded the duration permitted by the Icelandic animal welfare standards.

Even though animal welfare organizations opposed the decision, Iceland allowed whale hunting again, stating it had implemented stricter rules and increased monitoring to minimize the distress to the whales. 

A review on September 7 of the ship named Hvalur 8 revealed that a fin whale was alive for 30 minutes after being struck by a harpoon; the ship took 30 minutes before firing another harpoon shot.

Kristján Loftsson, the head of Iceland’s sole whale hunting firm, Hvalur hf., attributed this mistake to a technical issue with the harpoon’s pulling mechanism. The ship has been directed to halt operations until this issue is resolved, the Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) said.

Whale hunting in Iceland runs from mid-June through late September. The majority of the harvested whale meat is sold to Japan. In the previous year, 148 fin whales were hunted in Icelandic waters. 

Recently, two animal rights activists chained themselves to the Hvalur 8 and 9, immobilizing them at the port for over 33 hours.

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