Closure at Dettifoss

The area around Dettifoss waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park has been closed off from traffic due to flooding, according to a post on the park’s Facebook page. Thawing of ice and snow in the area have caused excessive water flow, which has now cowered road 862 that leads to the waterfall.

Furthermore a river of freshwater has formed under the snow in Sanddalur, which can create conditions life-threatening to passerby. Due to this, the area’s park ranger in cooperation with local police and The Road and Coastal Administration has decided to temporarily restrict traffic in the area.

It is unclear how long the closure will last, but back in 2016, similar conditions caused closures for up to 36 hours.

Whaling Company Hvalur Ignores Permit Stipulations

The Directorate of Fisheries hasn’t received copies of diaries of whaling vessel captains working for the company Hvalur in 2014, 2015 and 2018, despite repeatedly asking for them, Vísir reports. The head of the Directorate of Fisheries says they do not have the legal wherewithal to force the whaling company to hand the information over.

When Hvalur obtained a permit from the directorate for the hunting of fin whales back in 2014, it came with the clear stipulation that captains of whaling vessels keep a diary pertaining to the extent of their whaling. This was done so that the directorate would be able to accurately observe Hvalur’s practices between 2014 and 2018, the years the company’s permit extended to.

During that time Hvalur hunted 436 fin whales without handing over any diaries to the Directorate of Fisheries.

Eyþór Björnsson, the head of the directorate, says that they have been in contact with Hvalur’s lawyers in hopes of securing the diaries, without luck. The government agency has previously rescinded permits of fishing vessels in breach of contract, but according to Eyþór, it can’t do so for whaling vessels as they fall under another legislation.

“We can only ask for the data,” a disappointed Eyþór says. “We can’t force them to hand it in and we can’t cancel their license.”

Despite this infraction, Kristján Þór Júlíusson, Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, has extended Hvalur’s whaling permit to the year 2023.

Children of Asylum Seekers to be Schooled at Háaleitisskóli

The city of Reykjavík has decided that a special school department for the children of asylum seekers be created at Háaleitisskóli, RÚV reports.

A report by the city revealed that between 2017 and 2019, around 57 children of asylum seekers ages 6 to 16 years old received education in Iceland. Up until now, however, these children have been divided amongst 12 different schools. Conversely, the new department hopes to secure proper education for the children under one roof.

The report also suggests that Háaleitisskóli is a prime location for the project, as it is located in the middle of the city of Reykjavík and is close to public transportation.

As Iceland Review reported back in February, the new department was originally proposed at Vogaskóli, but those plans met with some opposition. Helga Helgadóttir, director of special education at Vogaskóli school was not happy with the committee’s proposal, saying it was counter to how Vogaskóli works, and as far as she was concerned, not in compliance with elementary school laws nor The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

However, the staff of Háaleitisskóli is reportedly thrilled with this new department, whose main objective is to secure social and educational well-being of the children of asylum seekers, even if they only stay in the country for a short period of time.

The department will include a department manager, three teachers and one assistant. The estimated cost of the new project is 14.4 million ISK.

Crowdfunding Site Aims to Resurrect WOW air

A new crowdfunding site, hluthafi.com, went online last week, claiming to want to involve the Icelandic public in a national fundraising effort to help resurrect WOW air or help finance another low cost airline in Iceland, RÚV reports. Skúli Mogensen, former CEO of the now defunct WOW air, says he is in no way connected to the effort but is following closely.

The site claims to be run by a group of former WOW air customers, who recognise the importance of a strong low cost airline in Iceland. The group says in a statement that tourism “has stimulated economic growth and increased quality of life in recent years and we want to make sure that quality remains.” The site urges the public and business to pledge small amounts of money that would help to finance a new airline, should one be started within the next 90 days.

The site was originally anonymous but has now been revealed to be upheld by a carpenter named Friðrik Atli Guðmundsson. Friðrik said in a recent interview with Vísir.is that he and the group behind the effort originally wished to remain anonymous, and hopes that “the public and the media respect our privacy.”

“We plan to secure a spokesperson, but otherwise intend to keep people informed through the website,” Friðrik says.