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Iceland’s biggest whaling company, Hvalur hf will resume hunting endangered fin whales for the first time in two years, according to the company’s chief executive, Kristjan Loftsson.

In an interview with an Icelandic newspaper, Loftsson announced that two of his whaling boats will be made ready for the hunting season and set sail in June, and that processing of the dead whales will take place at the whaling station in Hvalfjordur, the company’s freezer facility in Hafnarfjordur and possibly in Akranes.

Fin whales were last taken off Iceland in 2010 when Hvalur hf. slaughtered 148 whales. Various reasons were cited by Loftsson for halting whaling in 2011 and 2012, including a decline in the main Japanese market, plus labour disputes in Iceland itself. 2013 marks the final year of a five-year commercial hunting quota period. It is important to note that this ‘quota’ (number of whales that can be killed) is self-allocated by Iceland rather than formally issued by the IWC (International Whaling Commission).  This year, Iceland has allocated itself a quota of 154 fin whales; however it also allows itself to carry over 20% of any unused quota from the previous year, giving the hunters the potential to kill up to 184 fin whales this season.

Vanessa Williams-Grey, who heads WDC’s campaign to stop whaling in Iceland commented: “It’s not unusual for Loftsson to make grand announcements about resuming whaling and then to cite various reasons for rescinding that decision. We sincerely hope that this is another case of sabre-rattling, but we will be in touch with our contacts in Iceland and will keep a close watch on the situation in the coming days.”

More on whaling in Iceland