Image: Golli.

Icelandic Whaling Company Suspends Operations

 In Nature, News

Commercial whaling company Hvalur hf. will not be hunting whales this summer, Vísir reports. The reason the company cites for the decision is that permits required for whaling did not arrive until late February – too late to allow for the necessary maintenance of whaling ships. The ships will therefore stay put in Reykjavík harbour this season, where they will be made ready to sail next year.

“There will be no whaling on our part. So they’ll just get to swim in peace here around the country,” stated Ólafur Ólafsson, who captains one of Hvalur hf.’s whaling ships. “We’ll just relax in the meantime and will do maintenance this year – bring [the ships] into good shape for next year.”

Hvalur hf.’s two ships, built in 1948 and 1952, currently require extensive maintenance of their steam boilers. “It’s a lot of work to undertake this. You need to get specialists that come from Denmark,” Ólafur explains. While the company received a permit for the season on February 19, Ólafur says that was too late to bring the ships into working condition for this summer. “You need to order spare parts. That takes 6-8 weeks, up to ten weeks,” Ólafur explains, and the maintenance itself “would never have been finished before late August.”

Greenpeace ship Esperanza is currently in Reykjavík harbour – but Hvalur hf. representatives say that has nothing to do with the decision to suspend whaling this season. Hvalur hf. has received harsh criticism in recent years, particularly after killing a hybrid whale and a pregnant fin whale last season. Hvalur hf. resumed whaling last summer following a two-year break, catching a total of 146 whales in 2018.

Some whaling will still take place in Iceland this year, however. One boat, Hrafnreyður, has been licensed for hunting minke whale this season, and aims to start doing so later this month.

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