Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson suspended the decision of his predecessor Steingrímur J. Sigfússon on Friday on extending the reserve for minke whales in Faxaflói bay off Reykjavík, restoring the bay’s whaling zone to its former size.
Sigurður backed his decision up by a statement, saying Steingrímur’s decision was “neither based on scientific viewpoints nor the interests of minke whaling in the area.” Sigurður also pointed out that 80 percent of minkes are caught within the border of the reserve Steingrímur was trying to create, Fréttablaðið reports.
“There are also no scientific arguments for decreasing the off-limits area,” pointed out Rannveig Grétarsdóttir, managing director of whale watching company Elding. “It’s just politics,” she commented.
Rannveig added that in the past two months, since the extension of the reserve, minkes have been unusually tame and more whales were spotted on each tour.
Gunnar Bergmann Jónsson, managing director of minke whaling company Hrefna, said after the reserve was extended, the company’s whaling vessel Hrafneyður had to be operated from North Iceland.
“But now with this decision, another whaling operator will hunt in Faxaflói,” Gunnar added, revealing that whaling will probably resume in the bay this week. Hrafneyður will likely follow in August.
Gunnar stressed to RÚV yesterday that all minkes have been caught far away from whale watching boats, stating that there have not been any collision between the two industries.
The hunting quota for minke whales this season is 229 animals.
Meanwhile, Iceland’s commercial fin whaling has provoked protest from Greenpeace.