Tag Archives: fin whales

U.S. Certifies to Obama That Icelandic Whaling Undermines CITES and Whale Population Recovery

There are several petitions circulating on this cause.
Press Release
Interior Certifies that Iceland’s Commercial Whaling Undermines International Wildlife Conservation Treaty
February 6, 2014
Contacts:
Claire Cassel
703-358-2357
Claire_Cassel@fws.gov
Minke-Whale-With-Calf-SlaughteredWASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior has certified to President Obama under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006 and since then has exported whale meat and products despite a ban on international commercial trade. As provided under the Pelly Amendment, within 60 days following certification by the Secretary the President will determine what actions are appropriate in response to the certification.
“Just 25 years ago, commercial whaling had nearly driven whales to extinction, but thanks to a global effort to conserve whale stocks and end over-harvesting, several whale species have begun to recover,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “Iceland’s whaling activities undermine these worldwide efforts to conserve whales.”

The Havlur whaling company also created whale beer.
The Hvalur whaling company also created controversial whale beer.

Hvalur, the sole Icelandic company engaged in harvesting fin whales, resumed fin whale hunting in 2013, following a two-year hiatus due to market decline in Japan following the 2011 earthquake. The 2013 whaling season ran from mid-June until the end of September with a total of 134 fin whales killed. Iceland sets its own catch quotas for commercial whaling and has significantly increased those quotas over the last several years. For example, in 2006, the annual quota was set at just nine fin whales, while the 2013 annual quota authorized the hunting of up to 184 fin whales.
Iceland has recently announced a new five-year quota for fin whales, to begin with the 2014 whaling season, which will allow a total of up to 770 fin whales to be hunted in the next five years. Fin whales are hunted solely for export to the Japanese market.
From 2008 to 2012, trade reports show that more than 1.6 million kilograms of fin whale meat and products were exported from Iceland to Japan. Fin whales are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which prohibits trade for primarily commercial purposes.
Iceland also does not follow the procedure laid out by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to assess sustainable catch levels. The IWC was established to manage whaling activities for the conservation of whale populations and is viewed as the global body with expertise for the management of whale stocks.
In July 2011, then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke certified under Pelly that the commercial whaling activities by Icelandic nationals are undermining the effectiveness of the IWC conservation program. In response to that certification, the President directed federal agencies to undertake a number of diplomatic actions to encourage Iceland to change its whaling policy.
Photo by e-activist.com
Photo by e-activist.com

CITES is an international agreement signed by 179 nations that is designed to control and regulate international trade in certain listed animal and plant species. Approximately 35,000 species currently benefit from CITES protection. For additional information on CITES, please refer tohttp://www.fws.gov/international/cites/how-cites-works.html.
For additional information on the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967, please refer to http://www.fws.gov/international/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/pelly-amendment.htm

Fin Whales Face Iceland’s Harpoons Once More: Creative Math Yields Goofy Graphs

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) recently issued a press release which warns that Iceland plans to slaughter endangered whales this summer:

The Icelandic newspaper Skessuhorn reported yesterday that it had “reliable evidence” fin whaling will begin again, after being shut down last summer due to the impacts of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Although Kristján Loftsson, director of Hvalur, would not confirm, the paper claimed it had evidence that whaling will begin in June and is likely to last for three months.
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) are urging European and US leaders to take strong diplomatic actions to end Iceland’s continued and expanding whaling.
Clare Perry, EIA senior campaigner, said: “Iceland has exported almost 2,000 tonnes of whale meat to Japan in recent years. The Icelandic whaling company Hvalur is deliberately growing an export market for an endangered species which is protected by two international agreements to which Iceland is signatory. We are calling on the EU and US to take urgent steps to end this rogue whaling.”

It is shortsighted for Iceland to take this stance, since the profitability of selling the meat (contaminated with pollutants often in excess of safe standards), is not sustainable…but of course that is not the whole story, and direct profit from whale slaughter may not even been their primary reason for killing the whales.  Simply put, whales and dolphins are seen as competitors for fish by the fishing industries of these countries, and they rely on some fairly creative figures to justify their position.
These days, any theoretical paper you read on the subject of fisheries involves mind boggling mathematics and complex computer models – yet even so, in the final analysis, the models often fall short of being an accurate representation of what is going on below the ocean surface, and when it comes to apex predators such as whales, the results can be disastrous if the figures are used to calculate how many can be slaughtered.
The problem with this type of approach is that is a top down strategy – starting with the top predators and working down the food chain to plankton – but the ocean is a bottom up system, and biologically it is driven by the biomass of plankton.  So much so that biological oceanography gives little more than a nod to anything higher up the food chain than krill.  But most of the basic fisheries models don’t include the whole life cycle loop, and for good reason – it adds too much complexity.
Yet the island countries of Iceland and Japan put considerable resources into trying to figure out just how many fish the cetaceans (whales and dolphins) consume. Based on theoretical numbers, they use these models to decide how many whales and dolphins to kill in order to conserve their lucrative fish industries (both countries enjoy a high standard of living), and they base the concept on some fairly contorted theorizing.
In this first graph, it looks like they tied a knot to make the data fit (*see below for source information):
And this one shows how you take four possible scenarios and stuff them in a sock to force data to fit:
From those numbers they come up with something like this, which seems to show that without the competition from marine mammals there would be a couple hundred thousand tons more fish for the fisheries industry:

The dashed line is the theoretical amount of catch without cetaceans (solid line), timeline should read 1993 to 2023.

But all of these mental gymnastics miss the point:  prior to the 19th century – when humans began commercial whaling in earnest – the oceans were teeming with fish.  The oceans were a system in balance, but with the development of technology humans reached farther and deeper into the seas, causing the collapse of fish (such as cod) as well as cetacean populations.  In other words, there were more fish when there were more whales.
The reason that it will never add up to take out other top predators and substitute our nets is that we remove the fish entirely from the system, interrupting the natural cycle and ignoring the feedback mechanisms that strike a balance in nature. Natural predators leave waste, and eventually their own bodies, to help fuel the system.

And we don’t know what the heck we are doing.  Please sign the petition to help put an end to Icelandic whaling.
*Reference for the graphs:  On Dynamic Interactions Between Some Fish Resources and Cetaceans off Iceland Based on a Simulation Model)

Why Japan Is Preparing to Battle Over Whaling – Their Other Agenda

On the face of it, the government of Japan seems to be run by escapees from The Cuckoo’s Nest, taking their country down a path that is sure to end up in ruin, but things are not what they seem and Japan has a second agenda.
Their stance on whaling has gone from puzzling to illogical as they pump millions into the costly whaling industry, when Japan has yet to recover from the devastation of last year’s earthquake. Their government recently announced that they will give their fishermen 28 million dollars to support a renewed whaling venture into the Southern Ocean, and are considering granting the whalers 30 million more to provide protection from the protests by anti-whaling groups.

Neither side is backing down, and it could get deadly down there this year – if the Japanese whalers hurt or kill humans who just want to protect the ocean’s greatest inhabitants, then Japan is going to be seen as murderously ruthless as well as pridefully ego driven.
Why in world would Japan make such a choice? Nothing is quite like it seems and if, like Alice in Wonderland, you are ready to tumble down the rabbit hole into the crazy logic behind this, this quick summary will get you started (references at the end if you wish to learn more).
The number of whales Japan is allowed to take for food is strictly controlled by the International Whaling Commission, but the number allowed for scientific research is very loosely controlled, if at all in some cases. Japan uses this loophole to kill more whales to eat than would otherwise be allowed, to take endangered species, to kill pregnant females, and slaughter mothers with their calves.
Like many other whaling nations, Japan claims to have an aboriginal right to kill whales, but that does not extend to the Southern Ocean where Japan has been whaling only since 1987. They were supposed to conduct ‘research’ for five years, but that has been extended and number of whales they target has doubled, to just over 1000 minke, fin, and humpback whales.
They justify continued ‘research’ by repeating the same studies ad nauseum, or by doing bizarre research (such crossing whale sperm with cow embryos).
The profitability of whaling has gone down with rising fuel costs, the world is losing its appetite for eating whales, Japan has huge problems with its recovery, and already has stockpiled whale meat (some of which it gets from Iceland, also illegal). Protecting their fleet is going to be expensive, and could be disastrous.
Here is where we enter into ‘nothing is as it seems’ – Japan has both a secondary and tertiary motive for this costly, brutal, and unpopular stance: first of all, the whales down near Antarctica carry a less significant load of pollutants and radioactive contamination than their northern cousins.

Second, and this is fairly devious, Japan also has a significant fishery for krill and fish down there, and have dedicated a great body of research (by killing whales) into calculating how much each species of whale eats. They view the whales as competitors, and think that the whales they kill will allow their fishermen to increase their catch of krill and fish.

So, Japan sends both a whaling fleet which profits from killing whales, and a fishing fleet which they think will get more krill and fish because they have killed so many whales:

Growing concerns about the possible consequences of competition between marine
mammals and fisheries make this an increasingly important issue in fisheries management and
conservation in the future. For this purpose, comparative research on the seasonal, local and
annual distribution and abundance of cetaceans and their prey should be extended. This should
make it possible to develop a blanket, multi-species management plan for marine organisms that
also involves marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, porpoises and pinnipeds, in order to
allow a more realistic fisheries management strategy, aiming for both short- and long-term
sustainability of marine organisms, including marine mammals and their conservation in the
world.
In the Antarctic, baleen whales, excluding Bryde’s whales, feed mainly on krill during
austral summer, where the krill fisheries decreased recently because of diminishing markets. Of
these species of cetaceans, the minke whales play an important role in the prey web in the
Antarctic in particular. Armstrong and Siegfried (1991) indicated that the minke whales consume
95% of the total biomass of krill that is consumed by baleen whales in the Antarctic. This study
showed that the annual crustacean consumption by minke whales was 42-64 million tons, and that
this amounted to 40-54% of total annual crustacean consumption by cetaceans in the Southern
Hemisphere. Tamura et al. (1997) estimated the prey consumption of krill by minke whales
around the Ross Sea in the Antarctic to be an order of magnitude greater than the estimated
consumption by Adelie penguins and crabeater seals. The writer considers that there was direct
competition for krill among cetaceans, seals and seabirds in austral summer in the Antarctic. Krill
fishery appears to be of minor importance now. However, any development of this fishery could
lead to increased competition between cetaceans and fisheries. For better understanding of this
phenomenon, it will be necessary to have more abundance estimates of cetaceans and quantitative information of prey species to assess the interaction between fisheries and cetaceans, especially as
– as for the Indian Ocean – there is no available abundance information for cetaceans. (FAO)

Until the early 1990s, the Soviet Union led in harvesting Antarctic krill, but following
the Republic’s break-up in 1991, Japan moved in front, accounting for
more than 50 percent of the annual catch; in some years it landed as much as
75 percent. (Krill Count)

Japan’s whale/krill/fish calculation doesn’t take into account that the whales are part of the ecosystem, and without whales to fertilize the water (supplying iron, a vital and limited nutrient), the whole food chain may collapse as environmental climate change affects the nutrient distribution as well.
Seriously Japan? What are you thinking?


And why is the rest of the world sitting by and letting Japan wreck havoc on an environment for which the Japanese have no historical or present right to do?


Japan is nearly at the top of the planet, the southern ocean is at the bottom.

Profitability of whaling http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/04/sea-shepherd-harassment-cuts-japanese-whale-catch-in-half.php
FAO ftp://ftp.fao.org/fi/document/reykjavik/pdf/09Tamura.pdf
Southern Ocean iron balance http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-2979.2010.00356.x/abstract
International Whaling Comission http://iwcoffice.org/index.htm
Krill Count http://www.krillcount.org/report/krillcount.pdf
http://books.google.com/books?id=XGbgRmq5G5kC&pg=PA270&lpg=PA270&dq=contaminants+in+southern+ocean+versus+arctic+whales&source=bl&ots=wzCTrvmAvg&sig=kJbJhIhQjEkAvYuwQ3el4roBjSk&hl=en&ei=kGasTtPZOueOiALl95X-Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBg

Whale Wars on the Internet: Iceland, Japan and Yahoo! Marketing Meat from Endangered Species

Today’s press release from The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) (a UK-based Non Governmental Organization that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental issues) calls for the online community provider Yahoo! to get out of the illegal trade business and develop a social consciousness.
These days, with Facebook and Google competing for network dominance, Yahoo! can’t afford to lose it’s users, a fact that will leave them open to a boycott.  For those of you who feel frustrated by the slow progress of international politics to end whaling, here is something you can do:  stop using Yahoo! until they decide to stop trading products from endangered species.

NEW FIN WHALE EXPORT BY UNREPENTANT ICELAND, Yahoo! urged to stop selling the meat of endangered whales.



Canned Icelandic fin whale on sale in Japan (c) Environmental Investigation Agency

LONDON: The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) today confirmed that a further 131 tonnes of Icelandic fin whale has been shipped to Japan and renewed its call for global retailer Yahoo! to immediately prohibit the sale of the endangered species via Yahoo! Japan.
The latest shipment brings the total of fin whale exported to Japan since Iceland resumed commercial whaling to more than 1,500 tonnes, despite the CITES Appendix 1 listing of fin whales clearly prohibiting international trade
In July, the EIA report Renegade Whaling identified Icelandic company Hvalur and its multi-millionaire boss Kristján Loftsson as hunting fin whales for export to Japan via a company he helped to set up.
But despite Iceland being certified under the US Pelly Amendment later that same month, it has now been confirmed that in August a new export to Japan took place of 131 tonnes of fin whale product with an estimated value of 209 million Icelandic króna ($1.7 million).

“On September 15, US President Barack Obama stated that Iceland’s whaling and trade in the meat threatens the conservation status of an endangered species and undermines multilateral efforts to ensure greater worldwide protection for whales. Stopping short of targeted trade sanctions, he nevertheless announced diplomatic measures aiming to push Iceland to halt the trade.

Fin whale meat packed for transport - Iceland (c) EIA

Yahoo Japan! sells numerous Icelandic fin whale products, including large (1.5kg) blocks of meat, bacon (blubber) and canned products. As of September 2011, these products and many more were still available on the internet from Yahoo! Japan shopping sites; a survey by EIA found 10 different retailers offering Icelandic fin whale meat products for sale via Yahoo! Japan.
“At a time when the US Government is applying international pressure to force an end to Iceland’s whaling and international trade, Yahoo! Japan is effectively encouraging further hunting of the species by selling endangered fin whale meat products on its website,” said EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry.
“It’s long past due that Yahoo! put its house in order and stopped profiting from, and stimulating, this bloody and wholly unnecessary slaughter.”
EIA first called on Yahoo! Japan in April 2010 to ban all sales of whale, dolphin and porpoise products on its store and auction websites after discovering that many products contained high levels of the neurotoxin mercury.”
Read EIA’s Renegade Whaling report at http://www.eia-international.org/renegade-whaling
Environmental Investigation Agency
62-63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY
UK
www.eia-international.org

Whales Are Featured in the “Crimes Against Nature” Series on the National Geographic Channel

Last week’s announcement by Iceland that it would not hunt endangered Fin whales this year was good news, appreciated the world over.  Iceland thawed its frozen heart on this issue due to economic realities, brought into public scrutiny by the undercover work of eco-detectives from London’s Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).  The resulting documentary promises to a fascinating look into the underworld of commercial whaling.
“With powerful and haunting images, criminals caught in the act by hidden filming and courageous investigators operating on the dangerous front lines of environmental crime, these films will dramatically show viewers just how much a small but tightly focused and endlessly dedicated organisation can achieve,” said EIA Executive Director Mary Rice.
Tune in 9pm Tuesday, September 6th for the show on Icelandic whaling – or better yet, watch the whole series starting at 8 pm:

NEW FILMS ON ECO-DETECTIVES PREMIERE IN USA
Get on the front line with the Environmental Investigation Agency
LONDON: Three gripping new documentaries following the work of undercover investigators from the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) will premiere in the USA on Tuesday, September 6, 2011.
Launched as a three-part special under Nat Geo Wild’s Crimes Against Nature strand, the programmes have been a year in the making and will take viewers into the murky and high-stakes underbelly of global environmental crime, from Scandinavia and Africa to Southeast Asia and China.
The full line-up for US viewers on September 6 is:
Crimes Against Nature: Blood Ivory
8pm ET/PT (Eastern Time/Pacific Time)
The EIA team heads to Kenya, Hong Kong and China to investigate the world of elephant poaching and the international ivory trade. Following claims of an upsurge in poaching and ivory smuggling, EIA wants to establish firsthand what’s really going on. Visiting Kenya’s national parks, it documents the horrific reality of elephant poaching, and in China its undercover investigations discover startling revelations about how the ivory smuggling underworld works.
Read about the investigation behind the programme at http://www.eia-international.org/files/news654-1.pdf
Crimes Against Nature: Making a Killing
9pm ET/PT
Only a handful of countries continue to practice industrial whaling; Iceland is one of them, pursuing endangered fin whales in order to turn a profit. But rumours have persisted that there is a lack of demand for this whale meat in both Iceland and Japan, its main export market. With this in mind, EIA investigators pack their undercover cameras and attempt to locate and understand the driving force behind this trade.
Read about the investigation behind the programme at http://www.eia-international.org/cgi/news/news.cgi?t=template&a=649&source=
Crimes Against Nature: Chainsaw Massacre
10pm ET/PT
EIA’s undercover agents head to Laos and Vietnam for a new investigation into the notoriously dangerous timber trade. Vietnam is fast becoming a major global player in the timber industry, but with little forest left of its own it is largely dependent on importing timber from other countries. EIA suspects a lot of this timber is being taken illegally from Southeast Asia’s rapidly declining tropical rainforests and will stop at nothing to expose this devastating environmental crime which has the potential to affect us all.
Read about the investigation behind the programme at http://www.eia-international.org/cgi/news/news.cgi?t=template&a=651&source=
“With powerful and haunting images, criminals caught in the act by hidden filming and courageous investigators operating on the dangerous front lines of environmental crime, these films will dramatically show viewers just how much a small but tightly focused and endlessly dedicated organisation can achieve,” said EIA Executive Director Mary Rice.
The three Crimes Against Nature programmes are due to be broadcast on Nat Geo Wild in other territories, including the UK, later this year – watch http://www.eia-international.org/cgi/news/news.cgi?t=template&a=658&source=
for details!
Internet users in the US can see previews of two of the films on YouTube at:
http://www.youtube.com/user/NatGeoWiLd?blend=4&ob=5#p/u/8/1WvAE4AJgic
http://www.youtube.com/user/NatGeoWiLd?blend=4&ob=5#p/u/9/WpzuPNywtfE
http://www.youtube.com/user/NatGeoWiLd?blend=4&ob=5#p/u/10/-vaCBpAZE44
http://www.youtube.com/user/NatGeoWiLd?blend=4&ob=5#p/u/11/_myiYrepTQ8
Interviews are available on request: please contact EIA Press Officer Paul Newman at paulnewman@eia-international.org or telephone 020 7354 7960.
EDITORS’ NOTES
1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based Non Governmental Organisation and charitable trust (registered charity number 1040615) that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals.
Environmental Investigation Agency
62-63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY
UK
www.eia-international.org
Tel: +44 207 354 7960
Fax: +44 207 354 7961

The Good News Keeps On Coming: Iceland Will Not Hunt Fin Whales This Year

According to the Iceland Review, the proposed take of 150 fin whales has just been cancelled. Their chief market, Japan, is not interested in buying the meat at this time, ostensibly because  last year’s earthquake and tsunami damaged their capacity to store and process the meat.
More good news:  last year, Japan abandoned plans to hunt whales in Antarctica, and is considering abandoning the hunt in southern oceans entirely.
This year, blue and fin whales showed up in record numbers along the coast of  California.  Harbor porpoises returned to San Francisco Bay, and New Yorkers have been treated to an unprecedented number of whales, dolphins, and seals just outside the harbor.
Increasingly, we are treated to unique and interesting encounters, such as this one (most likely it is a humpback, not a blue whale):

It may be true that for some nations the slaughter of whales is no longer profitable, that the tissues of marine mammals are laden with toxins and radioactive particles, that people have lost the interest in eating the meat, that other oils have replaced what can be rendered from whale blubber, jaws and “melon” (the melon is what gives cetaceans the round heads).

But it is also true that increasingly, humanity is wising up to the fact that the intelligent animals in the sea may turn out to be the only other intelligent life we may ever know – certainly in our solar system, if not our galaxy.  It is time we stop exploiting them and begin to learn more about, and from them.

Iceland’s Pirate Whaling Policies – Update 9/17/11 U.S. Imposes Sanctions

Update 9/17/11 President Obama begins sanctions:

I direct the Secretaries of State and Commerce to continue to keep the situation under review and to continue to urge Iceland to cease its commercial whaling activities. It is my expectation that departments and agencies make substantive progress towards their implementation. To this end, within 6 months, or immediately upon the resumption of fin whaling by Icelandic nationals, I direct departments and agencies to report to me on their actions through the Departments of State and Commerce.

I believe that these actions hold the most promise of effecting a reduction in Iceland’s commercial whaling activities, and support our broader conservation efforts. BARACK OBAMA
Iceland thumbs its collective nose at the rules, agreements, and standards of conduct that most of the rest of the world believes is necessary to ensure the survival of whales and dolphins.
They slaughter endangered fin whales and send the meat to Japan.
They slaughter the little Minke whales, and in what is just twisted and grotesque, serve the meat to unsuspecting tourists in their ‘look and cook‘ program – in which they combine whale watching trips followed by samples of “traditional” Icelandic food – However, prior to 1914 Icelanders did not hunt Minke whales. Superstition held that Minke whales were sent by God as protectors.” (Wikipedia)

Icelandic whaling takes this…


and puts it here:

Canned Icelandic fin whale on sale in Japan (c) EIA

It exchanges this experience…
Minke Whale (Scuba Centre Photo)

for this one:
Harpooned Minke Whale

“In the long and bloody history of commercial whale hunting, Iceland is one of the most notorious and persistent protagonists, killing more than 35,000 whales since the late 19th century and opposing or circumventing efforts by the international community to regulate whaling and prevent the decimation of whale populations.”  (EIA Iceland Whaling Report)

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is calling for economic sanctions against Iceland until that country complies with the rest of the world.  More information can be found here.

REQUIRED ACTIONS BY THE US AND EUROPEAN UNION (EU)
By taking strong action against Iceland, not only will the Obama Administration live up to its promises to strengthen the commercial whaling moratorium, but it will also help to ensure a real future for the IWC.
In 2009, following the collapse of its economy, Iceland applied to join the EU. Iceland’s EU accession negotiations provide a unique opportunity to end Iceland’s whaling and trade in whale products for good.
Although EU Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) prohibits “all forms of deliberate capture or killing” of whales, as well as sales of whale products in the EU, it provides an opportunity for member states to ‘derogate’, under defined conditions, from the Directive’s prohibitions.
It is therefore crucial that EU Member States take a zero-tolerance position to Iceland’s whaling and trade in the negotiation of its accession, to ensure that Iceland does not take a derogation. WDCS and EIA commend the Dutch and German Parliaments for passing Resolutions in 2010 stating that Icelandic whaling would be unacceptable under EU law, and urge all other EU countries that are members of the IWC to take similar action.

Please support all economic boycotts of Iceland.

"By 2010, two minke whaling companies were operating in Iceland, and sales of whale meat continued to improve with more than 100 shops and restaurants throughout the country offering minke whale meat." (EIA Icelandic Whaling Report)

Iceland Choosing Not to Hunt Fin Whales Is Due to the Honor in Japanese Culture

Normally Iceland takes fin whales as part of it’s “subsistence” allotment, which it then turns around and tries to peddle on the open market, usually to Japan.
But in a surprising turn of events, Japan has politely refused to buy this whale meat – not because of a change in attitude towards whaling, nor to fears of the high levels of contaminants present in whale meat, but simply out of respect and support for their fellow citizens.
According to the Iceland Review,

the Japanese are showing solidarity with one another. Those who weren’t directly impacted by the catastrophe don’t go out to have fun and don’t eat at restaurants but rather have simple food at home, he described.
“There is no use for us to try and sell whale under these circumstances,” Loftsson commented. Also, three companies that have taken part in the import and processing of Hvalur’s fin whale meat were destroyed in the disaster.

My son, who is minoring in Japanese and who spent a semester abroad in Japan last year was recently helping me comprehend a google translation of a Japanese scientific article, much of which looked nonsensical. My son explained at that time that the Japanese language is structured to reflect the wholeness of the nation, and how everything reflects upon the community awareness, versus our American language which all too often is about “I” “Me” “Mine”. The particular article we were struggling with concerned dolphins and radioactive contamination, but the google translation got most boggled in trying to translate what the author recommended people do about situation because of the cultural differences imbedded in the language.
That whaling is not commercially viable at this point is good news, but that Japan continues to demonstrate how to survive loss and tragedy with dignity is nothing short of inspirational.