To whom do whales belong? That is the question that should be atop everyone’s minds, as Iceland sets about to resume the commercial murder of fin whales – the second largest beings on the planet.
The whaling company Hvalur hf, run by Kristjan Loftsson, a fisheries mogul who is reputedly the richest man in Iceland, plans to take the lives of 191 individuals from a population estimated by the Icelandic government of 40,000. Though some claim that this population is not endangered, this is vastly smaller than many human cities and towns around the world.
Like blue and humpback whales, fin whales suffered severely from commercial whaling and are now considered endangered by scientists. The 40,000-population figure has been questioned by many authorities. Whalers and their respective governments routinely over-estimate whale populations to justify whaling.
In 2015, Hvalur stopped whaling after Japan refused to import Iceland’s whale meat due to concerns around pollution and other health concerns regarding the meat. Unfortunately, the hunts will resume, with Iceland being the only country where it is “legal” to commercially hunt fin whales. Their whaling violates the moratorium on whaling approved by the International Whaling Commission. Iceland and Norway have taken a formal exception to the whaling ban.
Despite what is now understood about whales – that they have culture, and that they have the type of consciousness that gives rise to awareness and intelligence – Hvalur assumes the right to take lives of fin whales, with no regard as to how they might feel about this. Western humanity has long assumed this right, but this is increasingly being called into question. Especially as vegan movements around the world continue to expand – clearly demonstrating that human beings do not need animal flesh to live – questions as to whether humans’ interests and desire to make money are more important and valid than a whale’s right to remain alive.
Iceland is a largely progressive nation, filled with people who by and large do not hunt nor eat whales. A fair amount of the whale catch is destined for export to Japan, while other uses for the meat are trivial, such as medical supplements for iron.
Loftsson and his company should be stopped, on behalf of the whales and those who want them protected for their own benefits.