Minister’s Temporary Whaling Ban Could Be Extended

Iceland whaling Hvalur hf

Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir’s temporary ban on whaling may be extended, Mbl.is reports. A ministry-organised working group is assessing the compliance of whaling with animal welfare and whaling laws.

Temporary ban announced

On June 20, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, announced a temporary halt to the hunting of fin whales until August 31. The decision was prompted by a specialist council’s report revealing non-compliance with the Act on Animal Welfare.

Mbl.is reports a ministry-organised working group will assess the compliance of whaling with animal welfare and whaling laws in the coming weeks: “From the time that regulation no. 642/​2023 was enacted, the ministry has deliberated on refining hunting methods and equipment for large whales to align with Act No. 55/2013 and Act No. 26/1949,” the Ministry’s answer reads.

The working group, following its assessment, is expected to offer alternatives or potential solutions to the ministry, indicating that the “temporary” ban might be extended if the group determines that current whaling practices can’t meet animal welfare laws.

Saving Trapped Hikers at Eruption Site “a Near Impossibility”

Almannavarnadeild ríkislögreglustjóra. The eruption on Reykjanes, July 10, 2023

A public relations Officer with the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue has told Mbl.is that rescue workers had to assist several hikers near the eruption site at Litli-Hrútur last night and into the early hours today. Rescuing hikers who become trapped in the lava is “a near impossibility.”

Approximately 3,000 hikers visited eruption site yesterday

In an interview with Mbl.is this morning, Jón Þór Víglundsson, Public Relations Officer with the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (Landsbjörg), stated that there were seven instances of minor injuries or fatigue at the Litli-Hrútur eruption site late last night and into the early hours today.

An estimated 3,000 hikers, with varying levels of preparedness, trekked to the site during this time. The procession of hikers began to disperse away from the volcanic area and towards the parking lot at around 3 AM.

Nearly impossible to save trapped hikers

According to Jón, rescue teams succeeded in assisting hikers, even those who strayed from the marked trail or failed to reach the viewpoint. “Ascending to the lookout lifts one out of the dense smoke from the wildfires, but hikers are often drawn closer,” he said.

Read More: Favourable weather conditions at eruption site today

Jón warned of the perils of venturing near the lava, explaining that rescue via the same route would be impossible. “The only possible method would be an aerial evacuation, which isn’t always feasible. The chances of rescuing individuals trapped by fresh lava flows are slim, and anyone falling into the lava would, simply put, perish,” he concluded.

Six groups of rescue teams

For the past two nights, six rescue groups have been operating in the area, managing closure points and providing on-site assistance.

Jón also shared an interesting observation from travellers in the area: “Several travellers approached our teams, reporting sensations of a ‘knocking’ from beneath the ground, akin to a heartbeat, according to one of the hikers.” While Jón speculated these could be volcanic tremors, earthquakes, or natural tremors in the area, he believed the source of the knocking to be within the lava fields.

Suspect in Laugavegur Stabbing Still at Large

police station reykjavík

The man responsible for a stabbing on Laugavegur early last week remains at large. A detective with Iceland’s Central Investigative Department told Vísir that the prolonged search was “unusual.”

Victim conscious but seriously injured

Nearly ten days have passed since a man was stabbed on Laugavegur in downtown Reykjavík. The assault took place in the early hours of Tuesday, July 4, with the assailant evading capture prior to police arrival. The suspect remains at large.

The victim of the attack, although seriously injured, was conscious by the time the police arrived. The man was taken to the National University Hospital (Landspítali) and was placed in intensive care. Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson told reporters at the time that the man’s life was not in danger.

Prolonged Search “Unusual,” Police Say

Eiríkur Valberg, Detective Chief Inspector with Iceland’s Central Investigative Department, told Vísir today that the police were still searching for the suspect. Eiríkur was unwilling to go into further detail about the investigation on the basis of investigative interests but admitted that a suspect remaining at large for such a long time was “unusual.”

According to Eiríkur, the victim is doing well, although he could not confirm whether the man had been discharged from the hospital. Previously, Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson had stated that the police would publish a wanted notice for the man if the search proved unsuccessful. Eiríkur did not want to reveal if the circle had narrowed in recent days.

As previously noted by IR, this is the second stabbing occurring in downtown Reykjavík over the span of a few weeks. Two people have suffered fatal stab wounds in Iceland since the start of 2023.

Favourable Conditions for Viewing Litli-Hrútur Eruption

reykjanes eruption 2023

A meteorologist with the Icelandic MET Office predicts favourable weather conditions today, with a stiff breeze and clear skies promising optimal visibility for observing the ongoing eruption near Litli-Hrútur mountain. The trail to the eruption is approximately 7 km long (one way).

Promising weather conditions

According to a meteorologist with the Icelandic MET Office, today’s promising weather conditions could offer optimal views of the ongoing eruption near Litli-Hrútur mountain.

Morning forecasts predict a strengthening wind, northerly in most areas, peaking at 8-13 m/s by afternoon. Calmer conditions are expected in the south and the interior Northeast and East regions of Iceland.

While partial cloud cover and scattered showers will keep the north chilly at 5-10°C, the south will enjoy a dry and bright spell, with temperatures climbing to 18°C, notwithstanding possible showers from the southeast.

“With mild weather, a stiff breeze to disperse gas, and clear skies, visibility for the eruptions should be quite good, provided the gas doesn’t blow across the trail,” the meteorologist observed.

As for tomorrow’s forecast, a prevailing northerly to northwesterly wind of 8-15 m/s is expected, potentially intensifying near mountainous areas, especially by evening. While rain cools down the northern region, the south remains dry and bright, providing mild daytime conditions.

New trail opened yesterday

As reported on Mbl.is, a significant number of people visited the eruption site near Litli-Hrútur yesterday.

“There are a lot of people there now. We did an informal count just before 10 PM, and there were approximately 400 cars in the parking lot near Skála-Mælifell mountain,” Guðni Oddgeirsson, a member of the Þorbjörn rescue team, told Mbl.is late yesterday. Guðni told Vísir this morning that approximatley 3,000 people had visited the eruption site yesterday.

Yesterday, the authorities announced that they would allow public access to the eruption. A new trail to the eruption site (differing from the trails to the previous two eruptions in the area), which is referred to as Meradalaleið (i.e. Meradalur Trail), has been opened; visitors park on Suðurstrandavegur, near Skála-Mæifell mountain, and hike to a viewing point near Vatnsfell. The hike is approximately 7 km long (one way)*. Cell phone service is not guaranteed in the area.

For more information on hiking trails and parking, click here.

*Reports of the exact distance of the trail vary; a website from the municipality estimates that a round trip to the eruption is approximately 14 km long, while other news outlets have estimated the round trip to be 20 km long.