Overhunting is responsible for low population numbers of fin whales currently. With the invention and use of modern whaling technology, fin whale populations were depleted due to hunting. In addition, fin whales are injured or killed in vessel collisions. This is especially true in the Mediterranean Sea where collisions are a significant source of fin whale mortality. Between 2000 and 2004, 5 fatal collisions with vessels were recorded off the east coast of the United States. Fishing gear also kills fin whales; entanglement results in at least one death per year. Fishing accidents have killed 4 fin whales in the years 2000 to 2004. Finally, a study done on whale calls shows that human sound can prevent mating. Since the whales use low frequency sounds to call to females, human interruption through sound waves, such as military sonar and seismic surveys can disrupt the signal sent to the females. This potentially can result in mates not meeting and a reduction in birth rates in populations.
In order to help populations of fin whales recover worldwide, the International Whaling Commission has set a zero limit for fin whale catches in the North Pacific and southern hemisphere. The catch limit was passed in 1976 and continues be law today. Hunting stopped in the North Atlantic in 1990. There are some exceptions to the commission’s limitation, a limited number of whales are allowed to be caught and killed by aboriginal natives in Greenland. Commercial catches resumed in Iceland in 2006 and a Japanese fleet began catching fin whales for "scientific" purposes in 2005.
US Federal List: endangered
CITES: appendix i
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered