Iceland’s only active whaling company Hvalur hf. is set to begin the whaling season today, Vísir reports. Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries instituted a temporary ban on whaling earlier this year but lifted the ban at the end of August. Hvalur hf. has pressed charges against two activists who occupied their ships for around 33 hours, preventing them from heading out to sea. While the company is permitted to hunt whales once more, it is subject to stricter regulations and increased surveillance.
Hvalur presses charges against activists
Activists Anahita Babaei and Elissa Bijou, who climbed the masts of whaling ships Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9 in Reykjavík harbour early Monday morning, descended from their outposts yesterday afternoon. Police took Babaei’s backpack shortly after the ships were occupied, leaving her without food and water for the duration of the protest. Hvalur hf. has pressed charges against Babaei and Bijou for breaking and entering. The two were taken to the police station on Hverfisgata yesterday after they descended from the ships.
Police actions criticised by human rights experts
Chief Superintended of Police Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson told Vísir that Babaei’s backpack had been taken in order to shorten the protest and to increase the likelihood of it ending sooner. The move has been criticised, including by the director of the Icelandic Human Rights Centre and legal experts. Police stated throughout the protest that Babaei and Bijou could have food and water if they descended from the ships.
Whaling to be recorded on video
Kristján Loftsson, director of Hvalur hf., told Vísir yesterday that the company’s two ships, Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9, were on their way to the whaling station in Hvalfjörður, West Iceland to pick up equipment. He stated that they would head out to sea today, September 6. The ships are subject to increased surveillance and stricter regulations set by the Minister of Fisheries this month.
Elín Ragnarsdóttir, head of fishing surveillance at the Directorate of Fisheries, called the new regulations on surveillance “much broader and more detailed” than previous rules. She also stated that they included “a lot more record-taking, especially in terms of animal welfare.” She confirmed that all whaling conducted this season would be recorded on video.