Posted by: The ocean update | July 1, 2015

Season’s First Fin Whales Brought to Shore (Iceland)

Hval­ur 9 kom í gær­kvöldi með fyrstu langreyðina á þess­ari vertíð til vinnslu í Hval­stöðinni í Hval­f­irði. Golli / Kjart­an Þor­björns­son

Hval­ur 9 kom í gær­kvöldi með fyrstu langreyðina á þess­ari vertíð til vinnslu í Hval­stöðinni í Hval­f­irði. Golli / Kjart­an Þor­björns­son

July 1st, 2015 (Emilía SÓlafsdóttir Kaaber). Whaling ships Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9 each brought a fin whale to harbor Monday evening, the first of the season.

Both animals were caught off the west coast of Iceland, and are now being processed at Hvalur Hf’s shore station in Hvalfjörður—which literally translates to Whale Fjord, so named for the area’s long history of whaling.Two men in a kayak circled Hvalur 9 as it came to harbor, and as the ship attempted to land, threw specially designed flare torches into the water, presumably to protest the continued practice of whaling.

Mbl.is published this morning a series of photographs taken by Kjartan Þorbjörnsson, better known as Golli, featuring the whales being brought to shore.

Earlier this week, Skessuhorn reported that Sam Simon, a ship belonging to American anti-whaling organization Sea Shepherd had sought permission to dock in Tromsø, Norway, where the freighter Winter Bay, containing 1800 tons of frozen whale meat belonging to Hvalur hf, is currently docked, citing engine failure.

In 1986 Sea Shepherd sank two whaling ships at Reykjavík harbor in protest of Icelandic whaling.

The Norwegian coastguard has kept Sam Simon until careful surveillance, and permission to dock was not granted, but the ship rather allowed to moor out in Tromsø bay.

It appears that claims of engine failure might have been fabricated as Sam Simon suddenly left Tromsø last night, and headed north. The ship is currently coasting along the north-west coast of Norway, near Hammerfest in Finnmark—and happens to be following the same route Winter Bay is expected to take on its way to Japan later this month, when the passage through the Arctic Ocean through Russia opens up.

As reported on Monday, activist network Avaaz’s petition asking Timothy Harris, the newly elected Prime Minister of small Caribbean island nation St. Kitts & Nevis, where Winter Bay is registered, to deflag the freighter and thus prevent it from leaving Norway, has reached over 840,000 signatures.

By halting Winter Bay’s route to Japan—which accounts for a significant part of the trade in whale meat between Iceland and Japan—Avaaz hopes to hamper future Icelandic whaling.

In the petition and letter to Harris, the organization attempts to appeal to the Kittitian Prime Minister’s conscience, and care for the welfare of the environment, but also clearly states in its address to potential petitioners that “tourism is the main pillar of [St. Kitts & Nevis’] economy and we can put their reputation on the line by throwing them into our giant global spotlight.”

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