Activists Descend from Whaling Ships, Engines Turn Over Skip to content

Activists Descend from Whaling Ships, Engines Turn Over

By Ragnar Tómas

Photo: Protestor perched atop whaling ship (Screenshot from RÚV).

Two activists who had perched atop the masts of whaling boats in Reykjavík Harbor for over 24 hours descended from the vessels this afternoon. Fishers with the whaling company Hvalur told Vísir that whale hunting would likely begin later in the day.

Oppose lifting of the whaling ban

Early yesterday morning, activists Anahita Babaei and Elissa Bijou climbed into the masts of whaling ships Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9 to oppose the lifting of the whaling ban. As of this morning, they had surpassed a full day of protest at Reykjavík Harbour.

Samuel Rostøls, a Norwegian activist supporting the cause, told RÚV this morning that the police had yet to make any efforts since last night to remove the women from their precarious positions in the ships’ crow’s nests, which barely offer enough space to stand. The protesters had braved chilly temperatures throughout the night.

Valgerður Árnadóttir, Chair of Stop Whaling in Iceland (i.e. Hvalavinir), was on-site until yesterday evening. Speaking to RÚV this morning, Valgerður expressed growing concern for the protesters, particularly one who has been without food and water. She noted that multiple efforts to provide water or establish phone contact had been unsuccessful.

“It has now been 25 hours since she last had access to water, and despite multiple attempts to engage with the police, they have refused to provide her with water or check on her condition,” Valgerður stated earlier today. A police officer told Vísir this morning that the activists would only receive food and water if they descended from the ships.

Ambulance en route

An ambulance left for the Ægisgarður wharf this morning, RÚV reports. As noted above, concerns had escalated regarding Elissa Bijou’s health; she had remained without water or other supplies since police confiscated her backpack, which also contained vital medication, yesterday.

The scene was heavily patrolled with a force of ten to twelve police officers distributed across the whaling vessels, in addition to two marked police cars stationed on-site. Friends and supporters of the activists assembled at the harbour. Some maintained a vigil through the night.

Update: The police have turned the ambulance around, maintaining that the protestors had declined medical assistance, which they would be granted upon descending from the vessels.

No whaling today on account of the weather

Kristján Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur hf, told RÚV this morning that regardless of the protests, Hvalur’s whaling ships would most likely remain moored today due to the weather. Kristján questioned whether foreign protesters should have an influence on whether whales were caught off the coast of Iceland or not.

“Civil disobedience? What’s the origin of that concept? Should these people be allowed to seize power? It’s overbearing behaviour and pushy entitlement. And then they want food delivered – where does this end?”

Activists descend after 33 hours

After 33 hours atop the whaling vessels, Anahita and Elissa descended from the crow’s nests at just past 2 PM. They were subsequently taken away in police vehicles. As noted by Vísir, a few police officers remain at the scene and will likely stay there until the whaling ships depart for fishing, to ensure that other protestors do not encroach upon the vessels.

This article was updated at 15:40

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!