Meet Iceland’s Whaling Magnate. He Makes No Apologies.

Kristjan Loftsson’s company is the last one in the world still hunting fin whales. His credo: “If it’s sustainable, you hunt.”

Comments: 252

  1. It would be helpful to have the name of the agency in Iceland that granted the permission to hunt the 238 Fin Whales. He also took a Blue whale earlier this year. Did he have permission? It would be interesting to tie a boycott of other fishery products to Loftsson's whaling. Honestly, he gives the whole county (brand?) a bad name.

  2. This has to end....This can't be sustainable.

  3. @poslug
    He did not have permission to kill an endangered blue whale. He claimed it was a hybrid but it was positively identified as a blue.

  4. I wonder how many tourist who
    Come to Iceland for its nature and beauty know it’s in the business of killing whales? Maybe more should be done to inform the traveling public. If it starts hurting Iceland’s tourism industry that would put pressure on them to stop.

  5. @Dmv74

    And I wonder how many tourist who
    come to to the US for its nature and beauty know it’s in the business of separating migrant parents from their children? Maybe more should be done to inform the traveling public...

    Outrageous acts are often relative compared to others. That's not to diminish the barbaric practice of hunting cetaceans. Still, maybe we should start cleaning up our side of the street before we start telling other countries how to deal with their own internal issues.

  6. @Dmv74
    On my return from a wonderful vacation in Iceland, I wrote to the bureau of tourism to let them know that I found the presence of whale and horse meat at buffets objectionable, and that it would affect my decision to return. I also share my experience with friends and others through social media. Iceland is much more dependent on tourism that it is on whaling.

  7. @Dmv74 In the US, you are in the business of putting children in cages. Which is worse? I prefer Iceland, thank you

  8. One can only hope he has no descendants to carry on his legacy. Making money in this manner is not acceptable to a great many people. Sadly, that seldom stops the rapaciousness of moneyed classes. This whaling happening in Iceland and other countries is enough for me to question the value of visiting such places. But with such a high bar, tourism would cease to exist. We are all guilty.

  9. Iceland and Norway were just crossed over my bucket list...

  10. That is the best news I have heard all day.

  11. @Jess
    Less pompous tourist and more money spending tourist that appreciate their culture. I don't see how that's a punishment.

  12. It seems the real focus should be on the demand side here. The article states that most of the whale meat is exported to Japan. If they stopped eating whale meat, the market disappears and large scale whaling becomes unprofitable. (Japanese whalers have been operating under the sham "research permits" their government grants itself for decades). It's similar to the poaching of rhinos in Africa which is fueled by demand for rhino horn in China for "medicinal" purposes.

  13. @DL But why should Japan stop eating whale meat if whale harvesting is sustainable? Don't you think it's arrogant to tell a culture to stop doing something they enjoy unless you have a truly compelling scientific reason?

  14. @DL

    Yes, and if Americans stopped eating beef the cow would be holy in the whole world!

  15. @DL Thank you for bringing up the Japanese's so-called research ships that hunt whale. I have followed the Sea Shepherds for years which enlightened me to illegal poaching of whales (albeit, not in Iceland). The Chinese and Chinese restaurants are fond of shark fin soup. If you have ever watched sharks de-finned and thrown back in the water you will never forget it.

  16. He's right for an environmental reason:

    If restrictions can't be lifted on species that recover to sustainable levels, it will be very hard to impose restrictions in the first place.

  17. Whales are hunted for human consumption. They were over hunted by the Americans for oil and not to eat. Bison, in America was nearly killed to extinction, not for food, but because of "Manifest Destiny" that took away their lands. I suggest, the nay-sayers to whaling would have more scientific and moral authority of they sought ways to improve America's society that is actively finding ways to destroy the environment by using the lessons of balance the Icelanders have learned. Iceland uses less than 1% fossil fuel, for instance. How many bees are the Americans killing with their pesticides? Who will pollinate the plants then?

  18. @Max & Max

    Citing our faults as Americans, while valid, does not lessen the validity of our criticism or an evil practice.

  19. For those Americans who are dissing Norway, you should look at who is running your country and how it's been plundered and polluted to no end. Endangered species are now being overlooked to mine and forest for the sake of profit. Point a finger at someone, and three point back at you!

  20. @Majortrout

    I think I speak for the majority here (at least I hope I do) when I say that we are quite aware who is running our country.

    November 2018 mid-term elections can't come quickly enough.

    November 2020 major elections really can't come quickly enough.

  21. @Majortrout

    Two wrongs do not make a right.

  22. @Majortrout Outrageous cruelty should be opposed by all right-minded people, regardless of country of origin. International pressure sometimes is the most effective way of effecting change.

  23. This must stop. If boycotting Icelandic products and vacations is what it takes, so be it. Maybe the Sea Shepard folks can take it on?

  24. Why must it stop? Its a sustainable resource.

  25. @NLL
    The only reason Sea Shepard aren't prosecuted is because a few countries are harboring those fugitives.

  26. Count me as one tourist who went to Iceland knowing it "kills whalles."

    Bobby Fischer was still alive and NYT had carried an article on him living a rather simple plain life including taking buses and eating a whale steak at a particular restaurant.

    Hopped on a plane to go out there when Iceland currency was more expensive than moon dirt and they told you about it.

    So, while in Reijkavick - I used buses hoping to bump into Bobby but no luck.

    Went to his restaurant where he supposedly sat at the same table.

    No luck.

    But did order a whale steak which was very enjoyable - it tasted as if you were eating a super prime steak.

    And the price was also astronomical.

    I do not subsribers to this condemnation of this Icelandic man.. Poaching and killing done in a responsible manner is good for environment and probably very sustainable.

    I was in Antarctica and the cruise stopped at South Georgia islands. One of them was a whaling station and they still have remnants of machinery, photos etc - even whaling ships remains.

    Now, that was wantom killing of these whales which wiped them out - almost completely.

  27. Wold never visit Iceland or Norway, for this reason alone.

  28. @Colinpny
    Could you also move out of New York? We have enough big ego in this city already.

  29. The human race is trying to learn how not to exploit other humans and animals. Some learn slower than others. Some never learn. If nobody buys whale products, nobody will hunt. It really is that simple. As for the rest of the exploitation, one thing at a time. Humans aren't that smart.

  30. Humans are sustainable.

  31. Do they eat humans up in Canada? I thought murder was illegal in Canada.

  32. @Paul
    Human are actually far from sustainable. No living organism the size of human ever reached 7+ billions. And that is just talking about food consumption alone. If we are talking about total energy consumption, human probably use 100-1000 times the energy of equivalent sized animal. Human clear cut forest for wood and farmland, strip entire mountain for metals and drill kilometers into rocks to tap energy stored 200 millions years ago because human far exceeded the Earth's carrying capacity for human.

  33. Not very impressive journalism. What uses are the whales sold for? What is the purpose of the hunt? That information should be included so we can understand why only one out of three Icelanders protest this hunt. The only mention of a product made from whale bodies I can find is an iron powder to sprinkle on food. Not impressed - we have plenty of better sources for iron.

    My grandfather was a big game fisherman who ate what he caught, and a hunter so I have no inherent bias against hunters, but whale hunting is NOT fishing. Whales have a highly evolved consciousness, intelligence, emotions and social structure. Loftsson says it's okay to hunt them because they're "sustainable." Well, so are we humans and we're not endangered. How would Loftsson feel about being hunted himself and made in to a powder to sprinkle over breakfast cereal?

  34. @Todd Fox
    The meat is exported to Japan, according to the article. Also, he mentioned it's difficult to find shippers to transport his meat to Japan because shippers object to his business of whale hunting.

  35. @Todd Fox
    Human from advanced cultures do not consume human meat because of danger of bacteria, not because of some high level morality thing you are going for. There are plenty of cultures outside of Eurasia that consume human either as regular food or for religious reason.

    Further, pigs are incredibly intelligent and far closer to human biologically and emotionally yet they are still killed for food (something I am always saddened for).

  36. While some tourists may be disgusted, it is his right under Icelandic law to harvest whales. Another case of people (white Americans, usually) wanting to interfere with another’s culture or traditions because it doesn’t agree with their own.

  37. @Reader He is free to make a living. Running a whale watch business, then he could continue to “hunt” without destroying these beautiful, ENDANGERED creatures.

  38. @Reader
    When it comes to butting into other people's business, progressives beat conservatives every time. Wait till they find out that, in Japan, farmers raise a rare, adorable, fat and juicy cow, just to murder it later and serve it to The Rich.

  39. @Reader There is something severely wrong with your language. You harvest apples, corn, etc., but you do not "harvest" a sentient being, you kill it. Whales are among the most intelligent creatures on the planet and killing them is cruel and not necessary. But for some, anything goes as long as it makes a buck.

    Next, it's not just some tourists who are disgusted. There are plenty who are once they find out about it. And many have already started boycotting Iceland. It's not the only beautiful place in the world. Once I found out this summer that Iceland is whaling again, I booked my Christmas flight to Europe on a different airline although Iceland Air was cheaper.

  40. We should all look at our own culture before we take issue with the choices of others. We force millions of animals into horrible lives and premature deaths for our food. We force natural predators off their land and to the brink of extinction so cattle can graze. We're hunting grizzlies again. I disagree with whaling to the greatest extent possible, but America is the poster child for the entitled exploitation of our environment and it's animals, and we should all examine our lives carefully to improve.

  41. @Jay Well put! If any nation is brutal, it is the United States.

  42. @Jay Correct, and really when you think about it pretty much every country on earth is doing something they should not be doing. So what are you going to do, never travel? Never shop for something made abroad? Good luck with all that.

  43. @Jay I agree that we should each consider the cruel practices towards wildlife of our own nations and apply pressure to have these practices stopped. However, it is not hypocritical also to question what other countries are doing, such as Iceland and the Faroe Islands regarding whaling. Sometimes international pressure is extremely effective. Whaling should be stopped not only because of conservation concerns, but because whales are highly intelligent, social animals that experience profound loss when associated animals are killed. See this link for an example.
    Also, there is no humane way to kill massively large animals such as fin whales, least of all harpooning with explosives as seems to be the Icelandic approach.

  44. Killing defenseless creatures with explosives. Man’s depravity knows no bounds. Despicable.

  45. Interesting comment. How do you procure your food?

  46. @Joe B.

    I have no way of knowing if you eat meat, but perhaps you should visit a slaughterhouse and watch cows being killed with a bolt gun to back of the skull. They too are defenseless animals.

    I have no problem with those who wish to consume meat. As far as I'm concerned its a personal choice and frankly, as a vegetarian, I kill plants. I do have a problem with those who are undereducated about what it takes to put that meat on their table.

  47. Shame on him, shame on the government allowing such barbarism and hoping Karma comes his way sooner than later.

  48. Do you eat or use any animal products? The animal needs to die before you eat it (or use it in products like makeup, cars and computers), then would you consider killing a fish or other sustainable animals as barbaric? If so I believe you are out of touch with reality.

  49. Oh Iceland I know we don’t set a good example but don’t be like us, put this guy out of business. Another 70 year old trying to wring that last dollar out for a beautiful headstone.

  50. @John
    Put other country's traditional food out of business so they can import more beef from the US. Darn, I did not expect Big Agriculture being this insidious. Infiltrating liberal bastion NYTimes disguised as environmentalist.

  51. It is well understood that humans are over killers. Another species in that category is rats. My money is on the rats.

  52. why not give info to register your utter disgust of this man and his company? "turn around and look the other way" as the world burns around you. What is sustainable as the entire planet is changing climatically? The intelligence of the animals he is killing surpass his.

  53. Do you eat meat, fish, eggs? Have a pair of leather shoes? Drive in a car, bus or plane? You obviously use a computer ...... all of these products have animal products in them. If the resource is sustainable there is no harm in taking it. Interjecting your "disgust" in your statement is an emotional reaction and "lacks the intelligence of the animal he is killing."

  54. What an absolute sweetheart of a guy Mr. Loftsson sounds like! And you gotta love his credo: “If it’s sustainable we hunt”. Hmm. People are sustainable. Why don’t we hunt him?!

  55. Would we consume them as well? If so that would be murder and cannibalism. Eating other animals is normal, human are genetically wired to consume animal protein. If you don't want to eat them then don't. But comparing hunting people to animals is silly, illogical, and does not advance the discussion.

  56. There is a pattern to the Western media , whether liberal, conservative, etc. The pattern goes like this, American media will point to any other country, including ones in their own spher of camaraderie, in this case , Iceland and say "Look, they kill whales".Its bad, but. And, there is always a but when dealing with westen media. America is the worst polluter on earth. Her oil companies foul the world, her factories and cars destroy the atmospheree. America uses hybrid cars to assuage their guilt. Like waving a dandelion over a gut shot, thinking your cute flower will stave off death. Iceland does need to stop killing whales, and Americans in cities need to stop driving. The UN wont force this on you. Only mass death will. Rising seas, a burning planet. Choking air. Its here and its getting much worse. So utterly bizarre the so called conservatives in America. They are liberals, economic anarchists, a liberty to childishly destroy everything. Their counteparts, brothers in arms, the liberals, ar social liberals. Both pray to the market. Their religion of money will not save them , or us.

  57. America exports a culture of capitalism that destroys the environment. Tragedy of the commons. We have no place lecturing other countries about sustainable practices.

    America is every man for himself. Want cheap disposable workers ? Payoff gov for H1b visa or h2b visa and replace us citizens. All in the name of profit for large corporations.

  58. Yes, there is something wrong with what you are doing Mr.Loftsson.You are killing magnificent creatures who are endangered just for some steaks to go to Japan.My great grandfather was a whaler out of New Bedford, Mass. in the late 19th century when whale oil was prized as lamp oil.Fortunately this was a relatively short period of time and electricity replaced lamp oil and whaling was no longer commercially sustainable.It is long past time when hunters should be shooting or spearing ourendangered species whether it is elephants in Africa or whales in Iceland.

  59. @Janet Michael Where did you get the idea that fin whales are endangered??? The article goes to great lengths to argue the opposite!

  60. I agree that hunters should not take endangered species unless it legal and in the best interest of the endangered species, i.e. the black rhino. The whales he takes are sustainable and not endangered - your statements makes no sense. There's nothing wrong with what he is doing. Its equivalent to fishing for tuna, salmon, lobster, etc. or any other sustainable animal that is legal to take and is consumed.

  61. @Janet Michael

    Was endangered. No longer endangered. He can hunt .006% annually and is the only one with such a permit. This is the very definition of sustainable.

    Your outrage is a nothing burger.

  62. Currently, tourism is probably the greatest threat to Iceland's environment with millions of people crowding to see it's relatively unspoiled nature every year. In parts of Reykjavik and other towns residents are being displaced by hotels and AirBnBs, the jobs created are low-wage, low-skilled and to a large extent performed by transient foreign workers, the capital investments are risky and not particularly profitable.

    Mr Loftsson's credo of sustainability is admirable and should be applied to other sectors, in Iceland and internationally.

  63. There is a marvelous new book by Nick Pyenson (curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian) "Spying on Whales". All about what we do know about the great mammals who share the earth with us and the immense amount we do not know. Let's not give ourselves permission to kill them all before we find out. The fact is no one really knows how many are left given the immensity of the oceans.

  64. I ate a whale steak in Norway a few years ago. One would need to be very hungry to eat that meat regularly. Whales should be viewed as cats, nice creatures to have around, rather than cows, nice creatures who are good to eat.

  65. Sounds like Kristjan and Elizabeth should get together. He murders whales because he can, "it's in his blood". Elizabeth eats murdered cows , "nice creatures who are good to eat". Every year in good old USA over 39 million cows are murdered because they are "nice and good to eat". Never mind that they, like whales, are sentient beings. Your children are nice creatures too, what's stopping you? Is there no end to human depravity, living by their taste buds and some survival cave man grunts? Why justify murdering another sentient species for your transient pleasure. Bravo activists, keep sinking those boats.

  66. @Elizabeth
    By your argument, if you found the meat tastier, then you'd at least tolerate whaling. How about minding your own business as long as the whaling populating is viable, lest you prioritize saving whales over other animals that humans regularly eat.

  67. @Elizabeth

    Wow. This is absolutely warped.

  68. "Hvalur, pronounced KVA-lur, is the Icelandic word for whale." How does KVA-lur help me pronounce this man's name? Is it Kav-lur?

  69. While no fan of whale hunting in any shape or form people really need to slow down and broaden their perspective. Your high-carbon western lifestyle is causing incalculably more death and destruction to the biosphere than the hunting of a few whales.

    This planetary ship is sinking and sinking fast. Unless you have made meaningful personal sacrifice such as not having children, giving up flying, giving up meat and dairy then save the histrionics.

  70. @frank actually I have given up all those things. Killing whales is perhaps the most cynical, arrogant, pointless and ugly act a person can do on this planet.

  71. “If it’s sustainable, you hunt”

    Hunting humans is vastly more sustainable. Is he doing that?

  72. Disclaimer: I know *nothing* about the numbers of whales roaming around in the ocean.

    That said, in order for the population of some species to be sustainable, hunting can prove very effective. For example, there are species where the old males literally kill the young ones who are coming up in the hierarchy. These older males are sometimes no longer able to reproduce. They are a real threat to the viability of their own species. Removing those individuals is better for the rest of the population and at the same time can have utility to humans.

  73. @Fernando

    And you tell which ones are which, how?

  74. @Fernando this would not apply to whales who do not live in hierarchical groups. And even if they did, a whaling boat crew would not necessarily have the mens to identify an 'old male' who could potentially be a threat...

  75. “If it’s sustainable, you hunt,” he said.
    “It was fun,” he said of his early days on the boat.

    Well, the billions of homo sapiens are even more sustainable than whales, and over the course history, many (most?) societies have found that hunting and killing people can be even more fun.

  76. @Been There Is it only mammals that count as forms of life?

  77. Having read Moby Dick two summers ago along the East Coast of the USA, I am still fascinated by whaling as an industry. These photographs capture something of the novel--the isolation and the grandeur. I tend to agree with the Loftsson, If it's sustainable, you hunt it.

  78. @Joseph The grandeur? Shooting an explosive charge from the safety of a steel-hulled ship? The whalers in the novel risked and sometimes lost their lives throwing harpooning out of little wooden boats. Your self-centeredness is astounding!

  79. Puzzled about the comment that most of the Iceland whale meat being exported to Japan. Japanese newspapers have reported that whale consumption in Japan is much less than the meat arriving annually from the Japanese "research" program and that stockpiles were building up of frozen meat several years old.

  80. 200 whales are slaughtered each year for their meat. Um, let me think, millions of humans are killed each year. Which is worse??

  81. @Mellifluos. Killing of the whales.

  82. @Mellifluos
    Humans have no season to mate. Anyone, anywhere, anytime. Nine months and another human mammal. Female whales, and this is a generalization since I will not list all the whales, give birth to a calf every 2-3 years.
    Whale are mammals, like us, but smarter and better. Then there is hunting for food and dealing with whalers and warmer oceans and plankton versus krill. Slaughter of species is not good. Humans put humans above everything because other species cannot weigh in on their rights. And everything is decided and defined by humans. What other species can complain?

  83. We're a bunch of hypocrites in this country. We scream when folks are doing something to 'endangered' animals - even though as the owner states, " if it's sustainable, you hunt." He's not breaking the law, and there is a quota. Not much different than raising pigs, cattle, chickens, etc. and killing them for meat. He's killing 238 animals per year out of an estimated 40,000 just in the North Atlantic.

    While he does that we continue to be the biggest polluter on the planet and won't do much of anything substantial or meaningful to curb global warming.

    Wake me up when you get a reality check and get off your high horse.

  84. @MontanaDawg Surely you don't mean to say you draw no line between species you will and won't consume. Presumably, you would not condone the hunting of great apes for meat? Cetaceans have indicators of a sentience that may be recognizable to humans, surely this should distinguish them from say, cod fish? As for legality...well the law is not immutable, and we certainly do not lack for examples of laws that where changed as we gained knowledge. Reality check? How about some reasoned discussion and facts?

  85. @MontanaDawg
    May as well stay asleep.
    These are highly sentient, free beings.
    These murders will eventually be stopped.

  86. @MontanaDawg
    Is he raising these whales? Are there Icelandic whale farms we don't know about? What exactly is ensuring the reliability of sustainability claims? Reality check: Are you aware that 85% of the oxygen on this planet is created by phytoplankton that need to be stirred up to the surface from the depths of the ocean by WHALES in order to photosynthesize? We are a part of the whale's ecosystem, the part that results in 85% of earth's oxygen. Although we control the production of cows and chickens, we are not part of a cow or chicken ecosystem. Whales are vital for the oxygen we breathe. What some might call a high horse, the rest think of as personal responsibility/education.

  87. "Sustainable"? --- for whom and in what context? It could well be economically sustainable for Hvalur, but not, in the long term, for the species. The obvious problem with this stupidity is that it — characteristically — places profit above the public interest, in this case, the support for an ocean ecology that serves the entire planet, not simple Mr. Loftsson et al.

  88. Shouldn’t the headline here be something like, “Man fishes for sustainable species, just like every other legally employed commercial fisherman”? Did i miss something? Is the quota they’ve established unsustainable against a population of 40,000? Is a whale somehow more deserving of protection than other animals we eat?

    I consider myself an environmentalist. I believe in human-driven climate change. Poorly positioned articles like this in the NYT add legitimate kindling to accusations against the “radical left”.

  89. @Ben yes, a whale is more deserving of protection than some other animals we eat. Read up about it.

  90. @Ben
    Let us know when you open a whale farm on which you can control the means of production. Until then, there are privileges for the wild granted by powers and purposes far greater than humans can conceive.

  91. Whales are not fish, they are highly intelligent mammals. They have strong family bonds, intricate communication and highly complex brains. So yes, you did miss something.

  92. Enjoy the down escalator when you leave this life, Mr Loftsson.

  93. Coming from a country that kills innocent humans for sport using remote controlled drones, these protests are precious!

  94. @Max duPont Instead of indulging in what-about-ism, what about staying on topic?

  95. Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

    Kristjan Loftsson, I can't condemn, at least completely. I'm a die hard liberal, but if Fox offered me a job for crazy money to work for them, I would probably take the job. At least there is an argument to be made for, (always), making money. Would I kill endangered animals for the same money? I really hope not. But, Loftsson, probably has the same disposition when killing a whale as a chicken farmer killing a chicken. The repulsiveness of killing is lost to the reality of the job, and of making money. At least he's not calling his activity, "research," like the Japanese.

  96. @Prant but he does not need the money. Curses on him.

  97. Of course it’s sustsinable, the oceans are as pristine as ever. God would never let humans kill off every living thing. I heard from an evangelical that for every animal that goes extinct god creates more, right in front of his blessed eyes. I regret consuming meat, it’s part of our DNA that will lead us to extinction. I can picture an old Icelander with dementia laying in a nursing home, gumming a fine whale steak. That’s us.

  98. How much money is Loftsson making off the whales?
    Why does not a billionaire environmentalist just buy him and his licence out for ten years or pay him the equivalent for just tagging the whales instead of butchering them?

  99. @L Martin

    He's probably making millions shipping it directly to Tokyo.

  100. Humans are sustainable. Why not hunt them?

  101. @William Verick

    And there are far too many humans! They are an invasive species who add no value to the world.

  102. @William Verick
    Unfortunately, statistics show the world that in the U.S. humans are already being hunted regularly, particularly in schools, neighborhoods, stores, concerts, and other public gathering spots.

  103. @William Verick
    We do

  104. There is a place in hell for men like him. He kills whales and could care less if they become extinct and Trump and the GOP are killing us by continuing to use coal and fossil fuels. Business men need to be regulated because there will be so much damage they can do by wiping out our food chains. We won't even know it happened. More government is needed not less. We need more people to stop this out of control animal killing.

  105. @D.j.j.k. Do you drive a car, heat your home, or use air conditioning? The US EIA says 87% of Delaware electricity is generated by natural gas, a fossil fuel. Do you not get your food from the US food chain? Do you condemn yourself as roundly as you condemn others?

  106. Stop whale killling You are despised for it.

  107. @DF
    He seems fine with the fact that some meat-eating, hypocritical American liberals are meeting their daily quota of self-righteous indignation.

  108. Time to retire Mr Loftsson and open a book like say "Moby Dick", instead of slaughtering the last whales that are left in the Ocean.

  109. "It’s unclear whether the whaling operation is profitable."
    "He declined to cite numbers."

    Mr. Loftsson is trolling more than whales.
    And, he knows it.

  110. This article ends with the quote: “There’s nothing wrong with this.” In fact, we know so much now about cetaceans, that they have a language, a simply dismiss them as resources is ethically inappropriate. When science supports an ethical decision, it's imperative that we listen.

  111. Why would the Times allow a puff piece on this fundamentally evil operation? And lend credence to its deplorable philosophy? There is a difference between doing something because you can and be doing something because you need to. And that is all the difference in the world.

  112. @Rob Fundamentally evil? Deplorable philosophy? Please explain. All I hear are some fancy buzzwords being used to describe a sustainable hunting practice.

    How does this differ from commercial fishing of any other species? Assuming in all cases that the fishing is done in a way that doesn't negatively impact those populations in the long term, then is the same evil and philosophy still hold?

  113. @Rob Thank you! Agreed

  114. @Rob. Puff piece?? No, this is a real story on which 350 people have already taken the time to comment. Read the article; it's not praising or celebrating anyone. In fact, now that people know this happens (I didn't), there's a dialogue going on. If you think this practice is evil, be glad that a light has been shone on it. And don't throw criticisms around that don't make sense.

  115. i wish i had known this, before we visited iceland. would probably have bypassed this otherwise gorgeous island.....

  116. @sa7tobbe Yes, would have been better. One less person to flight unnessessarily.

  117. whaling; sustainable for certain species. as humans we do not generally respect such a high bar. The list is long for the number of species extinct by the hand of humans. Humans sit at the top of the food chain, however in nature unprotected we are just another item on the menu. To sustain life in in this paradigm something's must dye for something else to live. Dying needlessly because of political failure starvation or war, living unsustainably and and jeopardizing all life on Earth, seems like something we should be worrying about, not a sustainable harvest in the food-chain. i have been an ovo-lacto vegetarian for twenty seven years, all Flora and Fauna is sacred

  118. The problem with the rest of the world condemning this is that Iceland has one of the smallest carbon footprints in the world due to its use of underground hot springs for heating and energy generation. The rest of our countries are killing off species right and left and will probably end up even killing off our own.

    I don't see those environmental activists who sabotaged the boats flooding coal mines or impeding the manufacture of more automobiles.

  119. @Steve
    A carbon footprint is not the same issue as ocean sea life species.

  120. There is irony that these fervent anti-whaling posts are done by many who will at some point today drink a cup of Starbucks coffee. A brand named after the first mate on a fictional whaling vessel. The layers of history in our country contain a multitude of sins. I do not agree with allowing whaling to continue, but I don’t hear anyone offering reparations for the damage done by the US whaling fleet just over a century ago.

  121. @Ben P Starbuck's.....? kind of a silly post.

  122. You speak of a fictional account of whaling (Moby Dick). How do you correlate Starbuck's commercial enterprise as an outgrowth of period piece rather than a real business enterprise that abused nature. Try your argument on any Starbuck's aficionado.

  123. @Ben P
    A brand named after the first mate on a fictional whaling vessel.

    Which means absolutely nothing

  124. It may be sustainable to hunt all sorts of creatures, including elephants, dogs, lions, whales and even people. But, it is wrong and being sustainable is never a justification.

  125. Focus on his government which allows this. Trying to change a guy like this is futile.

  126. People like Mr. Loftsson will not change because of societal pressure, only laws will stop them. Iceland and Norway must cease to allow whaling, it is reprehensible. Tourists and businesses should boycott these two countries until they outlaw whaling. Iceland and Norway are on my list to visit but now I will not go to these countries until they change their laws about whaling.

  127. I wish respondents would give the argument of American hypocrisy a rest. It’s a given. To argue hypocrisy gives the violator described in the story a free pass. It also creates the argument that certain stories shouldn’t be covered because who are we to talk.

  128. This article should gain large circulation. People should know killing of whales ls allowed in Iceland for the sole purpose of selling whale meat to the Japanese. Iceland should be boycotted until the killing stops. Tourism has become very profitable in Iceland. They would soon feel a boycott.

  129. As a preface - I am not condoning whaling and I think the way that it is done as described in this article is unnecessarily painful. The article didn't really leave me with a good feeling at the end... especially his words at the end. He has more than enough to settle down and be satisfied.

    The comment sections become so emotional when it comes to hunting wild animals that have a good reputation and optics. It's the same with clubbing seals. The seals are adorable, but hunting and consuming them is how people survived in the past. Arguably you can say that whaling isn't as necessary as seals are for the indigenous population. And of course tourists are disgusted by it when they see it. You can't really hide when you're killing a whale. We can though, hide our horrid treatment of animals like chickens, pigs, cows, etc. and their living conditions. Those animals just happen to be shipped in nice packages or beautifully plated when we see them. I'm not American, but culturally Canada is somewhat similar and in general we overeat and glorify meat as it is. That's a good place to start.

  130. @K I became a vegetarian because of the cruelty to domestic animals. I have gotten so used to it I cannot imagine becoming carnivorous again. I feel much healthier and I enjoy a huge variety of fruits and vegetables which are delightful. We don't need to eat animals to be healthy and well fed.

  131. The killing of animals is an emotional issue. There is the killing for eating and killing for sport. I think very few of us can cast a stone if we have eaten flesh. I do know the ethical dilemma over eating an intelligent species like octopus. So delicious yet one of the smartest animals on the planet. Yet so many animals are hunted and killed with no food or cultural benefit especially in this country. I will go to Iceland one day to visit a friend there and maybe I will eat what she considers her favorite delicacy Puffin but maybe not..

  132. I'm assuming Mr. Loftsson's father didn't die from a harpoon fired into his heart. Couldn't happen to someone heartless, consumed by cruelty and greed and the "great" overused excuse of "tradition."

  133. OK, all - simple solution, maybe? Until whaling stops in these countries, stop visiting Iceland and Norway and Japan. Vacation somewhere else - Stop buying any of their exports or products.

  134. And then, consequently, the foreigners among the readers, should be advised to stop visiting the US, because of its growing disrespect for environmental issues in other aspects.

  135. "the whale watching crowd"

    Very good.

    Next thing you know the NYT will refer to environmentalists as tree huggers.

    Now I'm going to read the NY Post. As we used to say: same-same.

  136. Tough to fault a guy who is at least hunting for a living rather than penning up and force feeding the animals who provide us with the pleasure of their flesh.

    There is however a consideration of the physical and possible mental pain we bring to the animals we eat.

    I do not exclude myself

    We may have come a long way, but I suspect we still have a way to go in our effort to live in harmony with the universe

  137. Many species of whale including dolphins are not endangered. Nations and people who traditionally hunt for whales and dolphins for centuries should be allowed to continue their tradition that doesn't hurt anybody nor ecosystem. Hypocrites who protest against it should protest all animal hunting and killings.

  138. @Asian man, I totally agree, which is why I protest all animal hunting and killings.

  139. @Asian man The entire earth is experiencing a change in climate that threatens and endangers all creatures. So these previous "centuries" you base your contention that such hunting continue unchallenged, are not pertinent.

  140. @Asian man, don’t scrape your knuckles on the floor on your way out.

  141. It is very simple- there is no justification for the slaughter of whales.

  142. Oh, NYT. The United States has the bigest carbon footprint per capita. And you want to teach other countries about nature and environment?

  143. @Renate

    According to the latest data from the World Bank, that is not true - we rank 13th in per-capita CO2 emissions. Furthermore, whataboutism is unhelpful at best, and in most cases a malicious attempt to stymie productive discussion and cloud the issues.

  144. I just did an online search for restaurants serving whale. I came across an ad from a Japanese restaurant that specializes in whale. Be certain to notice that they source their meat from "research studies" in Antarctica rather than Iceland. Does this make it politically correct?

    "We use the whole minke whale that was captured in the Antarctic ocean for research whaling. Our master chef, who is an expert of whale dishes, will prepare from head to tail. If you're a whale meat lover, you can reconfirm how delicious whales are, and if you're a beginner, you will be surprised how delicious and light they are."

  145. That quote just made me sick to my stomach.

  146. @Mellifluos @jibaro Mellifluos doesn't need to propose anything. Did you read the NYT Magazine feature on climate change from last weekend? If not, would highly recommend it, certainly opened my eyes. Apparently we all squandered the last, best opportunity to do something truly effective on climate change in the 1980s. Now, 1.5-2 degrees warming is a foregone conclusion, and will mean forced migration of millions, which will mean conflict and loss of lives - through a combo of conflict/war, and hunger, illness, disease, etc. Beyond that though, 3-5 degrees warming is fully plausible and will mean severe consequences for the viability of human civilization itself in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. Earth will force a reckoning - and GOOD ON IT to do so, humanity needs to taught a severe lesson. But hey, maybe you and I will not be around to suffer (let's HOPE not?) -- but too bad for the new generations (as if tRump anda all of his ilk care, for that matter). Having said that, let's SEE yet, however, if enlightened minds can prevail with technology and compassion -- maybe at least the deserving, caring kinds the world over can win out, and progress humanity to a level where it lives in harmony with its surroundings.

  147. Let's start cleaning the planet from the biggest and the most obvious vermin, man. Maybe we should start hunting them down like we do to herds. For the planet to heal, the presence of humans has to be brought down to a minimum level.

    I am losing my patience, empathy and carrying for humans. Quite frankly I don't care what happens to them anymore. Humans have treated other humans in vicious and violent ways. I really don't see what's so special about them. Why is it a surprise that they treat all life forms with such brutality? Nothing new under the sun.

  148. @JG what do you propose?

  149. @JG I often find it difficult to have any respect for my own species.

  150. Fin whales murder small fish, squid and crustaceans. Where are THEIR advocates?

  151. @Ed L. Are you an advocate for small fish, squid and crustaceans? The animal kingdom kill to eat. Its nature's balance. It isn't murder. Humans murder.

  152. It pains me to hear of people hunting such intelligent, beautiful animals. But how can we stop what we consider unacceptable hunting of these animals off of Iceland when we cannot control the massive destruction being waged in our own home?

    We can't expect other people to change for the better if we set such a bad example ourselves. Mr Loftsson is threatening hundreds of whales, why the US's current policies are threatening all life across the planet.

  153. Calls for a tourism boycott of this wonderful nation are misguided. Attacking Kristjan Loftsson is also misguided. He is doing what his family and that nation have done for centuries, and he is operating within the laws and limitations of his country. The resolution of this issue should be negotiated with the government of Iceland, not through personal attacks on the Loftsson.

    Of course, there are far, far worse environmental issues being perpetrated by myriad American corporations and industries with the aid of American politicians. Far worse.

  154. Why visit and spend money in a place supporting whale killing?

  155. @Reader X - you do as you please, but I won't be spending any tourist money there after reading this heartbreaking article.

  156. @Reader X We do what we can and if that is boycotting certain countries then sobeit. As for the American corporations, there is nothing we do about that other than vote and boycott.

  157. No more whaling period- Loftsson should be sent to jail for crimes against precious life forms.

  158. He will kill more than whales. Tourism and the money made from it will die as well in Iceland.

  159. If its sustainable then hunt. That seems fair to me as long as a third party is determining whether its sustainable and the catch is all tagged and processed in the legal market. If those conditions are met, then I'm fine with it.

  160. @Jacqueline Humans are sustainable. Do we hunt them?

  161. Jacqueline,
    So since humans are sustainable, can I hunt them if I also eat what I kill?

  162. My core value: life with dignity.

    This is not it.

  163. Greed is the root of evil.

  164. "Today, Iceland and Norway are the only countries that allow commercial whaling…, and aboriginal subsistence hunting takes place in a handful of countries that includes the United States, Canada, Russia and Greenland."

    While I do not consume whale myself, I do support the rights of my country’s over a millennia long tradition of sustainable whaling. That said I would not argue for or support nontraditional whale hunting, such as whales found in the southern seas, like Blue Whales, White Whale, etc.

    The method of using an exploding tipped harpoon may seem barbaric, but please consider that traditional harpoons, like the what aboriginal populations of United States and Canada use, introduce a lot more suffering, as it takes a long time to kill the whale, due to a traditional harpoon never being instantly fatal, unlike what an exploding harpoon can be. Would game hunting suddenly become more moral if you used a primitive bow and arrow instead of a rifle?

    I take issue with arguments against whaling based on the whales being intelligent beings, since we do not have any scientific basis for properly communicating with and understanding them yet, we cannot say for sure. If you are to argue against whaling based on the merits of a “whale’s intelligence”, then please do so from the principled stand point of being a vegan. If you cannot do that, then you should take some time to consider your own consumption of animals, before you denigrate other people's consumption of animals.

  165. @Himmelganger This is a weak argument, reminiscent of the ones put forth by those who deny that 'lesser' animals feel pain or experience pleasure or grief. It's certainly a convenient one, because it rationalizes/justifies exploitation and murder. There is ample evidence to document the intelligence of whales, and in any case if we pay attention we can recognize in them social sentient beings like ourselves. And I have been a vegetarian for 40 years.

  166. @HimmelgangerWhale hunting was originally a crucial source of food for our ancient ancestors. It is no longer a matter of life or death for humans. Even if we assume that whales are not so intelligent, there is no moral justification for killing them for profit. They aren't a threat to us. We should leave them alone to live out their lives in peace.

  167. Even if we can trust that this individual is acting legally, poaching is a worldwide plague in every sector. So I am skeptical that these animals won't be plundered to extinction.

  168. Mother nature must have done an awful job keeping all beings in check before humans decided what's sustainable and what's not. Humans, the great justice makers!

  169. How dreadful.

    Said the man in a the lighted, air conditioned room, typing on his computer, who drove this morning.

    Hard to pass judgment when I know I am part of the billions who are harming the environment at large in far more horrific ways.

  170. @htg

    Yes we all are harming other sentient beings as well as the environment by merely living on the earth. However, what's important is the intention. Most of us probably don't go out of our way to do harm.

  171. @htg No, actually it's easy to pass judgment in this case.

  172. Certainly this will be an unpopular opinion, but I have no problem with this. If there are truly 40,000 of these whales, and he has a license to hunt only ~200 of them (which doesn't even mean he gets all 200), then I don't see anything substantially wrong. It's legal in his country, and there's a market for his product.

    If the Japanese didn't still eat whale, then he would probably stop. That's the only real problem here.

    At least he's doing it for meat and resources. In Alaska, it's legal to shoot wolves from helicopters just because.

  173. @Robert - let's not make false equivalences. 725,000 Fin whales were wiped out between 1905 and 1975. 40,000 is barely 5% of that. We almost exterminated them, as if they were cockroaches. If there were 40,000 Bostonians left, would you say it would be okay to kill 200 of them and then blame it on the Japanese?

  174. @Robert The problem I have with arguments like yours is that it assumes all life on Earth, all species, can be considered equal in terms of appropriateness for humans to kill and eat. Is it right for humans to kill animals that can live to 100 years old and reproduce at an extremely low rate? Or to kill some after torture so extreme that I sincerely doubt you could even stand watching a short video of it? Some things are legal, possible, profitable, and yet immoral. Values change. Live whales matter. They feel fear and pain for their family members and suffer emotionally as do humans--these are adaptive traits, not magically confined to humans. Trump supporters say that kids taken from their mothers and put in confinement are as happy as if they were at summer camp. Do you believe that too? That practice also ignores the emotional pain and suffering of intelligent animals. It's not right to hunt wolves from the air either. Sarah Palin is behind that resurgence. I have nothing but contempt for anyone who would kill from a vehicle.

  175. @Robert The numbers of whales are depleting and the oceans are dying. Sure its legal, so was slavery, for which there is still a market. Can't people just evolve, its bad enough that they consume beef and pork, grown and "harvested" in the most barbaric and cruel manner. I was born in the 60's and yet I understand that this is wrong and indefensible.

  176. As harpoons go through your body, you are dragged onto a slaughter ship run by other creatures. Your last sight is of your newborn, who, after seeing such a horrific act of murderous violence, is doomed to slowly starve while trapped in a grief that consumes its mind and body.
    Some whales carry their dead.

  177. @Getreal
    She's still carrying her dead baby after 17 days. It has been three years since her pod had a birth so it was an important baby. She's telling the world. I read that her son is bringing her food.

    Your is the best comment of all.

  178. Iron supplement from freeze dried endangered highly intelligent sentient beings? What, no better alternatives for iron supplements that don't require killing? May as well kill elephants for calcium supplements from their bones too.

    The lack of respect and humility towards other living creatures by mankind is atrocious. Perhaps Mr. Loftsson will meet his end as a bony meal for an Orca - as a toxic supplement to the killer whale's diet.

    Just as the Chinese bear responsibility for the slaughter of elephants for ivory, the Japanese bear responsibility for the slaughter of whales globally for the science of profitology.

    I am still hopeful of better from Iceland - and the Faroe Islands too, by the way.

  179. The thing is that this NOT sustainable nor necessary. Japanese consumers neither need the meat - there are many other sources for protein.

    It's sensless to kill animals in today's age. One man's gain, everyone else's loss.

  180. Here is this magnificent endangered creature it takes up to 30 years to reach full physical maturity with a lifespan of 85-90 years brought down by the greed and appetite of man with one or two explosive tipped harpoons, boom, destroyed, what took nature decades to nurture. The cruelty and insanity of it!!! We are the worst. I am often deeply ashamed to belong to the human species.

  181. Whale oil used to be the world's only commercial source of oil and was responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs. To date, it is the only commercially viable renewable source of oil that occurs naturally.

  182. @Anthill Atoms When used for lighting, in the old days, whale oil gave off an offensive stench. It was readily abandoned for 'much more pleasant' kerosene.

    Undeniably, it created jobs. So does war. So do epidemics of the plague, and wildfires, and hurricanes.

    Olive oil, sunflower seed oil, duck fat and lard also occur naturally. They are also commercially viable. So are many other types of naturally occurring oil, including, as another example, bear grease.

    A complex and in some cases dangerous process is required to render the oils from birds, fish or mammals. There is less risk in extracting vegetable oils; these are also healthier. So whale oil cannot be the "only... renewable source of oil that occurs naturally." You have to fight the animal for its flesh!

    Moreover, whale flesh contains hormones, parasites and now, certainly, chemicals from pollution. Why it would seem more "natural" to go through so much gruesome, malodorous effort to "harvest whale oil" is beyond me.

    It seems a bit like insisting on using traditional barter methods instead of modern monetary instruments, claiming that "older methods are more natural."

  183. @Anthill Atoms
    Just because whale oil is a form of oil doesn't mean that it is a direct replacement for petroleum, that is word play. Whale oil was once used in lanterns, and also refined whale oil was used as a light lubricant. With the advent of petroleum products, whale oil became obsolete, and actually before that time whale oil had become ridiculously expensive because the whales were in decline. Arguing that whale oil is a replacement for petroleum oils is idiotic, on top of everything else there aren't enough whales to supply oil where global demand is like 100 million barrels a day, it isn't a sustainable source of oil.

    As far as eating it, the last thing I remember is people in Norway and Japan don't even like it, the government had programs to actually encourage people to eat it.

  184. Vegetable oil is far easily obtainable, renewable and commercially viable option. If you have the infrastructure to build a factory ship for whaling, you definitely have means to generate energy keep the lights on.

  185. Uh, well ... the human population is certainly "sustainable". Do I have a licence to "hunt"?

    Fascinating photo of the rendering plant. Looks just like a modern urban vitrified office tower, laid on its side.

    A contemplation of the esthetic that results when efficiency in the pursuit of profit is allowed to shape infrastructure.

  186. To kill an animal like that is a sin. Mankind has no boundaries. Just because you can do it doesn´t mean you should.

  187. I would reserve judgment until you have tried a tasty fin whale soup and some candied blubber.

  188. @Pilot

    If your ethical judgement hinges on gustatory satisfaction, then your judgement is worthless.

  189. @Pilot So ethical concerns are trumped by sensory pleasures?

  190. @Pilot What would you do if a human baby tasted delicious?

  191. "To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." Aldo Leopold

  192. If it's legal and sustainable, I see no problem with it. If you have a problem with this man's hunting, take it up with the government who is allowing it - please don't hurt people or property.

    There are so many things we are doing in the United States that are way worse, I think the attention to this issue is disproportionate.

  193. We are bombarded every day with all the many other things that are "way worse" in the United States. I'm not sure how one article on whaling in Iceland in the NYT is disproportionate. I guess you think only the issues that continue to be "way worse" than the next should be reported on?

  194. As a meat hunter in Wisconsin, I have seen CWD in areas with high deer numbers and "baiting", and low numbers during prolonged winters when the spring green up didn't arrive in time for last years fawns. Many of us did our best to hunt based on carrying capacity of the areas we hunted based on DNR reports. The problem is that Scott Walker turned the top levels of the DNR into a political caucus. Iceland's "DNR" may well be politicized. I honestly don't know. But 40,000 animals in a large part of the ocean is not a great number. It is the methodology of counting that becomes politicized. International monitoring need to happen.

  195. @Gunmudder Only 2,700 in the North Atlantic according to NOAA

  196. Boycott visiting the nations that still allows the mass slaughter of whales. This includes not only Iceland but Norway and Japan.
    Small, indiginous tribal populations worldwide may take a few whales annually for sustainability, they should not be included. But the larger, modern, commercial whaling fleets should.

  197. This is just a shame and completely unnecessary....thank you Japan and China..

  198. I also make no apologies is not spending my tourism dollars in Iceland or Norway.

  199. We have "Service Dogs" - You see them in every grocery store, restaurant, library and movie theater ... We should have "Service Whales" then people will think twice before hunting them.

  200. These whales have better lives than the cow that becomes your hamburger or the farm raised catfish that becomes your fried fish sandwich. If the whales are being harvested in a sustainable manner, which it appears they are, then I don't see a problem with this. Unless you are a vegan you should withhold judgement, because the animals that become your food are treated much worse than these whales.

  201. All this talk of sweet, forbidden whale steak is making me hungry. And yes, I want fries with that.

  202. this is tragic and horrifying, but so is all of the meat industry. What about the thousands, millions of cattle that are killed in the US every day?

  203. Sport hunting. That's all. Sounds like a cheap thrill for him. The world doesn't need the next level, whale-derived iron powder.

  204. @Ella Isobel I disagree, even if you are correct these "sport hunters" certainly have more skin in the game than most of us ever will.

  205. Some people believe it is acceptable for humans to eat the flesh of dogs, monkeys, horses, lions.

    Personally, I can't wrap my head around that.

    I find the very idea of eating dolphin or whale as objectionable as the idea of eating a dog.

    It's a form of excess. You really have to go to extreme lengths of the imagination to envision a situation where a modern human "just had to eat a dog to survive." Or a whale.

    Over the past year, I have been eating less and less meat & seafood. That's counterintuitive for someone whose formative years were spent in Argentina. But I feel great; it has contributed to significant weight loss. I don't miss the meat/fish at all.

    Whales sing. Pollution by humans has harmed their habitat. It's not as if their life is so perfect that "a little bit of pain" won't matter much.

    It seems like such a contrived thing to do, to insist on hunting down & slaughtering this huge, complex mammal. It's a mindless form of megalomania: "Look, Whale, I may be tiny but I am stronger than you."

    Why not just let them be?

  206. @Maria Ashot If you find the idea of eating dogs and whales objectionable, don't eat them. Just don't impose that value on other countries.

  207. @Maria Ashot: Your opinion is clearly racist, believing that only your cultural norm is acceptable in a new world order.

    Just because you cannot wrap your head around a thing does not make that thing criminal or without value.

    I don't use or understand the need for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or marijuana. However there are plenty of folks who seem to need all that to survive. As long as they do not force me to use those things, they can do as they like.

  208. @Maria Ashot Well said. Thank you

  209. Rationally, it's hard to justify criticism of a man who hunts whales any more than the men and women who hunt other fish, or lobsters. Or, for that matter, is it rational to recoil at the sight of a slaughtered whale but shrug off the sight of a slaughtered pig or a cow hoisted on a conveyor belt?
    But there is something horrifying about this photo, even if it's irrational.
    Iceland is a wonderful country and very sensitive to the tourist trade. You want to change their whaling? Go after their tourists.
    But, sometime, visit the place. It's magical.

  210. It's NOT sustainable!!!!

  211. Whaling --along with everything else humanity does to the oceans-- is horrible, sustainable or no.

    Nevertheless, have you ever tasted whale? Deeeee-lish.

  212. I guess I missed the point. Who is Mr. Loftsson selling his whale products to? The best way to shut down a business is to boycott it's products, but there was no mention in this article who is actually buying the whale meat or by products.

  213. @VMG

  214. As an Icelander I have to add this. In the past one whale would allow an entire town to survive a winter. That was then. Cut the Japanese exports and see how many whales are hunted for domestic use. I doubt very many.

  215. @Boga When planning my visit to Iceland this year, I noted that the Lonely Planet guide said that 40 to 60% of the whale meat served in restaurants in Iceland is eaten by tourists. I decided my curiosity wasn't enough justification to support whale hunting. Instead, I enjoyed the lamb stew and the plokkfiskur. I indeed thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Iceland--such a beautiful place, both the natural wonders and the city of Reykjavík.

  216. Whale hunting by humans is not sustainable if everyone looked at a hunt as selfishly as this one man has.

    Kristjan is privileged. Kneel before the whale killing king.

  217. Japan bans whaling but allows the importation of whale meat? What's the Japanese word for hypocrite? At least the Chinese nominally ban the importation of elephant tusks and tiger bones to satisfy their rich's taste for such "delicacies."

  218. @Alan Mass
    yes, but the Japanese have their "whale study" every yeras where they KILL 250 or MORE WHALES 'for scientific purposes".
    The term for cows is MOUNTAIN WHALE so "whale" is a big part of Japanese food culture---science, not so much.

  219. The life of a whale has equal value to the life of a human being and worthy of as much dignity?

    238 Fin whales in one year is much less than the number of people cruelly murdered per month in the USA.

    Let's keep focused.

  220. @iain Mackenzie Where is it written that ANY life is more special than ANY other? Why are humans more important than other species? Let's not be so narcissistic.

  221. Your justification is no justification at all. Horrible.

  222. iain mackenzie,
    Brilliant observation. However, Fin Whales aren't hunting down humans. Focus on that with all your unequal dignity.

  223. I don't see a problem. Hunting wild animals in a sustainable way is much more environment-friendly and infinitely more humane than raising animals in filthy and abusive conditions and then slaughtering them by the millions. In fact, we should make it illegal to farm animals for the purpose of slaughtering for meat. And force people to kill and dress animals themselves if they want to eat meat.

    As for the speciests peddling their delusional values of beauty or intelligence, I'm comforted that they are not meat eating hypocrites at least. They can't be -- they are NYT readers.

  224. @TK Sung . . .well said . . . william wilson dallas texas dallas press club 1981

  225. Readers, when you hear yourself saying "other people do way worse stuff" as a defense for disagreeable behavior, know that you are taking a selfish and immature stance. This whaler's suggestion that folks on whale-watching cruises look the other way as he hauls his carcasses is disingenuous and betrays his contempt for sensitivity. He should be sneaking around in the dark of night.

  226. The degree to which we've anthropomorphized whales (especially among us urban city dwellers who don't earn a living from the ocean's resources) and other "majestic" creatures is absurd.

    I agree 100% with Loftsson's assertion that if "it's sustainable, you hunt." That's an admirably pragmatic statement and it shows that Loftsson is aware of the significance of his actions and the finite number of whales out there.

    Of course there's killing involved and I personally wouldn't want to take part in it (the same goes with the slaughtering of pigs, cows, and chickens, etc.) and it is undeniably a grotesque process but it's unavoidable and people should be able to, within limits, earn a livelihood how they want.

  227. @LR Human beings are sustainable, and quite possibly the cause to all problems in the world...let's go to work, LB. We'll start with Texas and your hometown.

  228. @LR The idea that if something is sustainable then you are free to hunt and kill it is a morally bankrupt point of view. It turns an act of killing that you would not personally involve yourself in into a utilitarian act without addressing the need or justification of that act. Loftsson kills whales because he wants to, not for sustenance as his ancestors did nor for the necessary process of providing food but for ego alone. Like the big game killers who kill for trophy's and pride it is divorced of ethical consideration of the act itself. The fact that people anthropomorphize some animals and not others doesn't take away the necessity of using more then a utilitarian viewpoint when deciding what we kill or do not kill. In the end earning a livelihood has nothing to do with killing whales or elephants or the wasp nest that is doing you no harm. It is avoidable and unnecessary and long past time for its ending.

  229. "There are a number of very valid arguments against anthropomorphizing the creatures with whom we share this world, not least of which is that their inner lives deserve to be evaluated on their terms — not ours. At times, interpreting their behavior through a human lens might be misleading, silly or even harmful. But at other times — and they occur more often than science would care to admit — perceiving ourselves in these others is exactly the right response. When an animal’s emotional state is obvious to anyone with eyes and a heart."
    -- Susan Casey, "The Orca, Her Dead Calf, and Us", New York Times, August 4, 2018

  230. The comments about America’s animal abuses do not forgive Iceland. All animal abuse must end. Your “you do it too” argument is disingenuous at best.

  231. @PaulieCan you NOT SEE the difference between this and raising more of a species for consumption?

  232. Why are wealthy Asians determined to eat the remains of our earths endangered? When there are pharmaceuticals for less than one hundred dollars, that work, why pay thousands for a Rhinoceros horn, that does nothing! Black Bear parts, whale meat. Be the one guy to have killed off and devoured the last of a living thing. This is no different than the poachers that feed the far east some of the last living species on our planet. I don't understand the logic or the appeal. Greed feeding ignorance.

  233. That mother orca is still pushing around her dead baby--10 days now.

    How anyone can hunt and kill these magnificant, sentient creatures is beyond me.

  234. @Talbot - "How anyone can hunt and kill these magnificant, sentient creatures is beyond me."

    Ask Orcas. They hunt and kill these magnificent, sentient creatures all of the time.

  235. @Talbot

    Actually, I think we're at the 18th day. There's a demonstration there for humans to see.

  236. “If it’s sustainable, you hunt”, says Mr. Loftsson.

    In today’s ocean environment I would argue that whale populations (and most other animal populations, save jellyfish) are decidedly NOT sustainable due to numerous human induced pressures such as ship strike, excessive noise, climate change, reduced prey abundance and habitat destruction.

    However, humans will continue to find justifications for the genocides of entire species (elephants, rhinos, tigers, gorillas, american buffalo, great auk), so long as cold, hard cash is involved.

    Most of the evil in this world is done in the name of commerce and religion, together they comprise the ethos of capitalism.

    Conveniently, Genesis granted man dominion over the Earth to use as he sees fit.

    I and many others do not see it this way. When I see a Fin whale, I see a wondrous being with dominion over its own existence.

    When Mr. Loftsson sees a Fin Whale, he sees a powder he can sell to improve anemia and a source of oil.


  237. @(not That) Dolly . . . genesis, conveniently? well sure works everytime . . . nonsense . . . william wilson dallas texas dallas press club 1981

  238. @(not That) Dolly

    I like your post, Dolly, but want to take issue with one element. I'm not Bible scholar, but it's my interpretation that "dominion" doesn't mean destruction or eradication. Rather, I think dominion means something more akin to "stewardship." I can't imagine any loving God (or god) of any faith tradition wanting humans to eradicate part of God's creation. Unfortunately, religion and universities and economics and politics have all been used to advance the world consumer culture that brings us to the place where we kill these beings for ridiculous things like lipstick, catfood, and gourmet, sent-halfway-around-the-world food. Thomas Berry nailed it in "The Great Work."

  239. @(not That) Dolly Let's not forget sonar blasts used by the military and petroleum industries. Whales, dolphins, etc. have ultra sensitive hearing which may explain why beached dolphins are often found bleeding at the ears.

  240. This is so sad … I have shed so many tears for whales on this planet. I continue to hold a vision of a healthy earth where whales are honored and respected along with the environment and all sentient beings. I am grateful for the reporting.

  241. This is an all or nothing issue, and most people are hypocrites. You can't pick and choose which animals to be outraged about when they're processed or hunted. Be a vegan, be pro-life, anti-capital punishment, and make like a Sikh and wear a mask lest you inhale a gnat - otherwise, somehow, you betray yourself. Or, eat your burgers wear your leather and yawn at the whole thing.

  242. @Ed

    That's easily the most absurd thing I’ve read today: “This is an all or nothing issue…”

    In whose imagination is the sentence “Do as little harm as you can” equal to the sentence “Do as much harm as you can?”

    Those are not equivalent “differences of opinion” in any system of ethics or logic.

    It’s incredible that anyone would suggest that there is no difference between a vegan contributing 1% to animal abuse and a meat-eater contributing 100%.

    Simply because a vegan can never totally eliminate all contact with animal products is not an excuse to kill, maim, torture, and pollute as much as you want and then smugly “… yawn at the whole thing…”

    Not eating meat reduces suffering. Eating meat requires suffering. I’m surprised I need to explain this, but one of those positions is clearly preferable to the other.

  243. @Ed "make like a Sikh and wear a mask lest you inhale a gnat" . Slight correction: you got your Eastern religions mixed up. Non-violence or "Ahimsa" is a key tenet of the Jain religion (not Sikh). Jain monks wear a mask so that they do not "inhale a gnat" and kill it.

  244. @Ed That's not the point, is it? We're talking about an endangered species. Hunting fin whales is probably not sustainable - we only have Iceland's view here...

  245. Please stop this now. These animals are about as intelligent as we are (and seem to be more intelligent than some of us).
    One way to put an end to this might be an effective boycott of products made in Iceland, and of Iceland as a tourist destination.

  246. So how is this packaged for human or pet consumption? Who or what consumes whale meat or fat?

  247. As long as there are people willing to pay the price for other people to kill and process whales for consumption, whales will be killed. Examine your own food intake and imagine how any meat you eat was raised, killed and processed before you bought it all nicely wrapped up for you.

    Vegans, you don't get off the hook (so to speak) so easily either. How were your vegetables raised, processed, packaged, transported and stored before you ate them. I'm thinking some petroleum products were used and an extra dose electricity.

    People must eat. What we have to do is find the most sustainable and responsible way to do it. Unless everybody goes back to a time where people grew and hunted their own food, this is the world we live in. Root cellars anyone? RAW

  248. THis is ridiculous. This has nothing to do with food and you know it.

  249. @richard wiesner I/Vegetarians don't eat meat, and the meat industry, not the vegetable farms are the main cause for our climate problems. I mostly shop @ farmers markets, small grocery stores and Whole Foods where is is no packaging... If you care ...A little effort goes a long way.

  250. The US is plundering our own wildlife with the Endangered Species Act being cast aside for the almighty dollar. This is not sustainable either.

  251. I hear Iceland is beautiful and geographically interesting. Too bad; none of my travel dollars will be spent there (nor Norway).

    And to those who say the USA has no moral ground to criticize animal exploitation, I say 'you got that right'.