Only 372 tons, about a quarter of the meat from the 125 fin whales caught by Hvalur hf. in Icelandic waters in 2009, has been exported to Japan this year, according to Statistics Iceland. That leaves 1,100 tons of whale products which are still in freezers in Iceland.
Managing director of Hvalur hf. Kristján Loftsson (left) and former Minister of Fisheries Einar K. Gudfinnsson by a slain fin whale. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
Managing director of Hvalur hf. Kristján Loftsson confirmed these numbers, explaining to visir.is that it is impossible to send all of the meat to the Japanese market at the same time. Therefore most of the meat is being stored in freezers and will be exported gradually.
“According to the latest statistics from Japan, no meat has been imported yet. It is possible that it is in the customs in Japan, I don’t know, but it hasn’t been imported,” claimed Árni Finnsson, chairman of the Nature Preservation Association of Iceland.
The 372 tons of fin whale products from 2009 which have been exported from Iceland, in addition to 80 tons from 2008, have delivered ISK 800 million (USD 6.4 million, EUR 5.1 million) in revenue.
“Einar K. Gudfinnsson, former Minister of Fisheries, issued a permit for whaling in January 2009 and stated that the foreign currency revenue would be five billion per year, but we haven’t come especially close to that amount,” Finnsson said.
Finnsson said the Japanese market is difficult and that probably explains why the whale meat that has been exported from Iceland hasn’t been registered as imported products in Japan yet.
Loftsson called the news coverage of the export process of whale products “espionage” and said people involved in the whaling industry need peace to work.
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