Administrative Fine Imposed on Hvalur After Welfare Law Breach

Iceland whaling Hvalur hf

Iceland’s only whaling company has been fined ISK 400,000 ($2,900 / €2,700) for violating animal welfare laws by delaying a necessary follow-up shot on a fin whale in September of 2023. This breach of regulations led to a temporary suspension of the company’s whaling activities last year.

Fin whale shot outside designated target area

On September 14, the operations of a whaling vessel owned by Iceland’s sole whaling company, Hvalur hf, were temporarily halted due to alleged breaches of animal welfare laws. The suspension followed an incident on September 7 where a crew member shot a fin whale “outside the designated target area,” resulting in the animal not dying immediately. The whale was subsequently shot again nearly half an hour later.

Recent regulations mandate an immediate follow-up shot if the initial attempt does not result in the animal’s death. The vessel was docked for eight days following this incident, during which representatives from Hvalur hf. made improvements to the ship to obtain permission to resume hunting.

A statement on the website of the Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) notes the following: “The company violated animal welfare laws during whale hunting by allowing thirty minutes to pass between the first and second shots. The animal died a few minutes after the second shot. According to the regulations on whale hunting, a follow-up shot must be carried out immediately if the animal does not die from the first shot. The administrative fine is ISK 400,000 ($2,900 / €2,700).”

Other companies also fined

Other companies also received administrative fines, including an ISK 160,000 ($1,200 / €1,000) fine imposed on a slaughterhouse in Southwest Iceland for leaving a pig with a broken leg in a slaughter pen over an entire weekend before it was slaughtered, an ISK 120,000 ($870 / €800) fine for delaying the veterinary care of a sick cat that was later euthanised, and an ISK 418,000 ($3,000 / €2,800) fine on an aquaculture company in East Iceland for improper euthanasia of farmed fish.

As reported in January, Hvalur hf. has filed a claim against the Icelandic state, citing significant financial losses due to a temporary whaling ban imposed by the Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Svandís Svavarsdóttir last year. The claim, supported by the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s conclusion that the ban lacked legal basis, seeks compensation for the company and its employees.

Another Hot Water Shortage in Reykjanes a Possibility

Reykjanes peninsula eruptions

After a volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula on February 8 disrupted the hot water supply in Suðurnes, a town hall meeting was held to discuss the risk posed by future eruptions to the hot water supply. A representative from HS Orka stated that although the primary hot water conduit to Suðurnes had been fortified, the possibility of another hot water shortage could not be discounted.

Town hall meeting in Reykjanesbær

Following a volcanic eruption that began on the Reykjanes peninsula on the morning of February 8, lava flowed over and breached the Njarðvíkur conduit, a pipeline that transports hot water from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant to the towns in Suðurnes: Vogar, Reykjanesbær, Garður, Sandgerði, and Grindavík.

Shortly after noon that same day, the utility company HS Veitur reported a hot-water outage in the upper areas of the Reykjanesbær municipality and the towns of Sandgerði and Garður. The rest of Suðurnes soon followed. It took five days for the authorities to restore hot water.

Given that another eruption seems to be imminent, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management (DCPEM) held a town hall meeting at the Stapi conference hall in Reykjanesbær last night. The meeting was attended by representatives of the DCPEM, the Icelandic Meteorological Office, and the utility companies HS Orka and HS Veitur, alongside the Minister of Justice, Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir.

Another hot water shortage a possibility

According to Kristinn Harðarson, Executive Vice President of Operations at HS Orka, the possibility of another hot water shortage in the Suðurnes region cannot be discounted if an eruption occurs again on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Mbl.is reports.

Kristinn was asked whether there was still a possibility that residents in the Suðurnes region would once again be without hot water if lava flowed over the Grindavík road again. He answered affirmatively but pointed out that a long section of the Njarðvík pipeline, where lava is most likely to flow over, had been fortified. “This is a method that was tested at Fagradalsfjall. We are hopeful that this could work. Of course, we are in somewhat uncharted territories,” Kristinn observed.

“We are, at least, in a much better position, although it is never possible to rule anything out,” Kristinn continued. “If an eruption occurs somewhere else and lava flows over that section of the pipeline that is unprotected, there could be a disruption in delivery. But, in that case, we are prepared to respond, with materials on hand, and will do everything possible to ensure that any interruption is as short as possible.”

According to calculations by the Icelandic Meteorological Office, about 8.5 to 9 million cubic metres of magma have accumulated under Svartsengi. In previous eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula, eruptions have occurred when the volume of magma reached 8 to 13 million cubic metres. The lead-up to an eruption can be very short, according to geologists.

As noted by RÚV, it was also revealed during the town hall meeting that backup power has been secured for the distribution system, alternative water sources have been secured, and drilling for hot water in low-temperature areas has begun.

Iceland News Review: Eruption in Reykjanes Imminent

INR

In this episode of Iceland News Review, it may have already happened: yet another eruption in Reykjanes. If so, this will mark the fourth one since last December. What will this mean for visitors to Iceland, or moreover, the people of Grindavík?

Also, an Icelandic company is set to take over the US market, a new app may save lives, a surprising number of Icelanders live abroad–but where?–and lots more.

Iceland News Review brings you all of Iceland’s top stories, every week, with the context and background you need. Be sure to like, follow and subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode!

PLAY Hits Funding Target with ISK 4 Billion in Share Commitments

iceland budget airline play

The Icelandic airline PLAY has secured share subscription commitments totalling ISK 4 billion ($29 million / €27 million), meeting its target before the annual general meeting scheduled for March 21, 2024. Additionally, the airline is advancing its listing to the Nasdaq Main Market in Iceland and planning a public offering to further bolster its capital.

Commitments pending approval at annual general meeting

In a press release yesterday, the Icelandic airline PLAY announced that it had secured new share subscription commitments totalling ISK 1.4 billion ($10 million / €9 million), bringing the total commitments to approximately ISK 4 billion ($29 million / €27 million). This achievement marks the fulfilment of the company’s target ahead of its annual general meeting, which is scheduled for March 21, 2024.

(A share subscription commitment means that investors have pledged or committed to buying a specific number of shares from the airline at a predetermined price before those shares are officially issued or made available to the public.)

The additional funds raised through these commitments come on the heels of previously announced commitments worth around ISK 2.6 billion ($19 million / €18 million). The final approval for increasing the company’s equity by this amount is now pending before the shareholders at the upcoming annual general meeting. The shares have been priced at a subscription rate of 4.5 ISK each.

To further enhance its capital base, PLAY’s board of directors is set to propose an additional public offering aimed at raising the equivalent of ISK 1.2 billion ($9 million / €8 million), also at a subscription price of 4.5 ISK per share. This offering will prioritise current shareholders in the event of an oversubscription. Notably, this forthcoming offering is exempt from the standard requirement of publishing a prospectus.

Listing upgraded to the Nasdaq Main Market

Amid these developments, the announcement also states that PLAY is making headway in its plans to upgrade its listing to the Nasdaq Main Market in Iceland, with expectations of concluding the process by the end of the second quarter. Birgir Jónsson, CEO of Fly Play hf., expressed his enthusiasm for the investor confidence shown in the airline’s equity raise.

“It has been a true pleasure to witness the positive reaction that investors have shown our equity raise. With the commitments we have now secured, in addition to the commitments from our largest shareholders already announced, PLAY has now secured new equity in the amount of ISK 4 billion. This number may be further increased following the public offering that is planned following the authorization from the company’s Annual General Meeting in March.

This equity raise substantially strengthens the company’s financial position and allows it to execute exciting growth opportunities and/or handle unexpected events. This is an important milestone for our good company and its employees. It is fascinating to experience how professionalism among the company employees is further enhanced. The group’s ambition is really special, and it is a privilege to work with this powerful group of PLAYers.”