It was a bright sunny day in Whalefjord, south west Iceland. Around 20 curious Icelanders were already there, some with their kids. A strong wind was blowing from the north, making the atmosphere even more dramatic as they were flensing (cutting up) a fin whale in the open area below us with just a fence separating us from them. The whaling boat Hvalur 8 (Whale 8) was coming in and number 9 had already left the station to kill more endangered fin whales about 150 miles west of Iceland.
Hvalur 8 was bringing in two more fin whales and waited at an outside pier while about a dozen men hurried to finish tearing apart the enormous animal as its lifeless carcass lay there, still in huge pieces. It´s surreal to watch this happen. To add to that feeling children are playing on the hill above while their parents sit with their picnic sandwiches and watch enthusiastically. The view from up there is like sitting in a Roman stadium. The scenery is as ancient.
They were bringing in the 80th endangered fin whale to be harpooned this season, about half the quota for this year. Each animal weighing up to 80 tonnes and 24 metres long, they are dragged dead, two at a time, strapped aside the 70-year-old whaling vessels which Mr Kristjan Loftsson, the main owner of the whaling company, maintains at high cost. The whole enterprise is a puzzle. How can this person continue with this business which seems to be costing him millions of dollars every year? Now European ports, under pressure, have closed down his export routes to Japan so it seems impossible for him to export the meat without incurring extraordinarily high additional costs.
Our big banner displayed the message: ‘What´s the point?’ while plastic hands pointed at the activity below. About 20 volunteers from different corners of the world joined some Icelanders to make their point on this windy August day. What´s the point in fin whaling? It harms Iceland´s image, it´s not profitable at all and above all it’s cruel and shameful. The workers in their orange clothes down below paused for a moment, and looked at us. Then they raised the volume on their radio and kept on going, competing with the clock. They have seen us before and they will see us again.