The environmental and planning council of the Westman Islands decided on Wednesday to place an overall ban on puffin hunting this summer. The country’s largest puffin stock resides in the islands with approximately 900,000 couples nesting there last year.
A puffin. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
However, due to lack of food, fewer chicks survived last year than ever before and scientists are concerned that this year’s nesting season may have become a complete failure, ruv.is reports.
Almost one month has passed from the usual nesting time and the puffins seem simply to have abandoned their nesting plans. The condition of the puffin stock around the country is currently being studied in an annual research expedition.
Gunnlaugur Grettisson, chairman of the environmental and planning council of the Westman Islands, said the puffin hunting season has been shortened gradually in the past years. It used to be as long as 55 days but last year hunting was only permitted for five.
This is the first time that puffin hunting has been completely banned in the Westman Islands, where the bird is a local delicacy, traditionally served during the Thjódhátíd festival held the first weekend of August.
Puffin hunter Georg Eidur Arnarson said he has full understanding of the situation but doesn’t think it’s right to ban puffin hunting altogether, pointing out that only 123 birds were killed last year.
Arnarson reasoned it is more sensible to hunt a few birds for research purposes rather than only monitoring puffin burrows.
Click here to read more about the condition of puffins and other Icelandic seabirds.