I’m delighted to read the brave and enlightened comments of Birna Bjork Arnadottir, granddaughter of one of the founders of Hvalur hf and a company shareholder, who has broken rank to speak out publicly against whaling. In a recent newspaper article, she describes how she once supported whaling but is no longer persuaded by the ‘whales eat fish’ argument often peddled by the whalers as a justification for their activities.
She also makes a more direct attack on Hvalur hf head, Kristjan Loftsson, questioning the wisdom or necessity of killing fin whales, given that the market in Japan has been poor and much of the meat is left sitting in freezers. She notes that environmental groups (including WDC of course) have helped close the market for whale meat dog treats in Asia and speculates that young people in Japan may no longer have much appetite for whale meat.
In a quite remarkable piece, Birna expresses her amazement that Hvalur may resume whaling when the practice has fallen out of favour with the rest of the world. Her concern is that greater interests may be sacrificed since those countries Iceland most relies upon for trade are opposed to whaling.
She ends by making clear that one man alone – Kristjan Loftsson – can make the decision whether to kill fin whales or not and expresses the hope that he might instead plough funds into other business opportunities.
When a voice from within the Hvalur camp states so clearly that whaling is part of Iceland’s past rather than its future, Mr Loftsson would surely do well to pay heed.