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Animal Welfare Inspectors to Join Whaling Ships

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) will regularly monitor whether whaling companies are complying with Icelandic laws on animal welfare, thanks to a new regulation implemented by Minister of Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir. The Directorate of Fisheries will conduct the monitoring. Only one company is actively whaling in Iceland and Svandís has suggested that their licence will not be renewed after 2023.

The Directorate of Fisheries will be responsible for sending inspectors on whale hunting trips, making video recordings of hunting methods, and keeping a registry of them, according to a government notice. All inspection data will be sent to the supervising veterinarian. The Directorate will also monitor whether the whaling ships are complying with the requirements of their licence, such as regulations on fishing equipment.

“It’s a cause for celebration that these key institutions will collaborate on the inspection,” Svandís stated. “That’s where the expertise lies and the data collected will be able to confirm whether whaling is practised according to law.” The regulation has already taken effect and monitoring will start immediately. The notice does not clarify whether inspectors will be present on all whaling expeditions.

Whaling restarted in Iceland in June 2022 following a four-year hiatus. In an op-ed published in Morgunblaðið newspaper, Svandís stated there is little evidence the practice is economically beneficial to Iceland. The current government regulations allow for whaling until the year 2023, and Svandís stated she sees little reason to permit the practice after that licence expires.

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