Activists trying to prevent the departure of whaling boats from Reykjavík Harbor. The police were called to the Reykjavík Harbor in Iceland this morning due to protests against the intended departure of two whaling ships of Hvalur ltd.
Iceland Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir issued a directive on 20 June this year postponing the country's whaling season until 31 August, 2023, after concluding the commercial killing of whales does not comply with Iceland's Animal Welfare Act. The same minister, in consultation with the cabinet, decided last Thursday to allow whaling again but now under stricter conditions. Iceland has a long history of whaling but this decision to allow hunting again has sparked mixed opinions and protests, both locally and internationally. Apart from the obvious animal welfare concerns many have pointed towards the potentially harmed image of Iceland and consequent negative economic impact, way beyond the economic benefit of the whaling!
Hvalur ltd. Is the only company involved in the whaling of Fin whale. They have prepared two whaling boats for this year’s whaling season. The original intention was to depart on Friday morning when the new regulation took effect but due to bad weather conditions, their departure was delayed until this morning. Shortly before departure two protesters climbed up and chained themselves to the individual masts of the whaling ships. The protesters claim they intend to remain there as long as necessary to prevent the ships from going whaling. Police officers have climbed up the masts and spoken with the protesters who refuse to leave. At this point, it is unclear when and if the ships can depart.
The new regulation introduced now is intended to improve and restrict the framework for Fin Whale hunting, guided by animal welfare concerns. This development is grounded in multiple factors, including the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority´s inspection report on whale hunting in 2022, the professional council's view on animal welfare, and a working group's assessment of ways to reduce deviations during hunting operations.
Highlights of the regulation proposed by the working group appointed by the Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries:
The working group's report suggests that modifying the fishing method could reduce deviations during hunting and enhance animal welfare. This will entail imposing detailed and stricter requirements on fishing equipment, methods, and increasing supervision.
The conditions set forth include provisions for training, education, fishing equipment, and methods. Both the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority´s and the Directorate of Fisheries will collaborate to oversee hunting activities. At the end of each hunting season, these agencies will submit a report to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries containing the primary inspection results.
Government Support: The Minister of Finance and Economy commends the decision as well-reasoned and carefully considered. The Prime Minister highlights the importance of conducting a comprehensive evaluation of Iceland's continued involvement in whaling.
Map: Arctic Portal
Source for pictures: Visir.is
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