Criticises Ministry Over Lack of Whaling Response Skip to content
Iceland whaling Hvalur hf
Photo: Golli. A whale at Hvalur hf.’s whaling station in 2015.

Criticises Ministry Over Lack of Whaling Response

Vilhjálmur Birgisson, chair of the Akranes Worker’s Union, is fairly convinced that there will not be any fin whale hunting this year, on account of the Ministry of Fisheries having still not responded to an application from Hvalur hf., Iceland’s last fin whale hunting company, for a hunting permit this year. The Minister has yet to respond to inquiries from reporters on whether or not the permit will be granted.

Needing an answer

“It hits me pretty hard and I think it gets clearer every day that there will be no hunting this year,” he told Vísir. “No company in Iceland can live with this kind of management: to not get to know whether they have a license to operate or not.”

The application was filed on January 30th, and the hunting season begins in about two weeks. Vilhjálmur does not believe this is enough time to start hiring people, prepare ships, and get equipment in order before the hunting season begins.

A contentious profession

Last year, the previous Minister of Fisheries, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, issued a temporary ban on fin whale hunting on the day that the hunt was to begin. This decision was made based on a report from the Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) that Hvalur’s previous fin whale hunt did not comply with animal welfare laws. This ban was later determined to be unlawful by the Parliamentary ombudsman.

The current Minister of Fisheries, Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, hails from the same party as Svandís–the Left-Green Movement–and has said that a decision will be made when the application has been processed.

New poll on whaling

In related news, a new poll from Maskína asked respondents whether they support or oppose Hvalur being granted a permit to hunt fin whales this year.

34% said they would support the granting of a new permit, 48.9% said they are opposed to the idea, and 16.5% had no opinion on the matter.

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