A ban on seal hunting in Icelandic waters could soon become a reality. The Ministry of Industries and Innovation published a draft of the proposed legislation online last Friday. The hunting ban would apply to all seal species, particularly the two that breed in Iceland: harbour seals and grey seals.
The Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) send a letter to the Ministry of Industries and Innovation last summer following an assessment on the size of harbour seal stocks in the country. Research shows that the number of harbour seals has decreased greatly since 1980. According to experts, Iceland’s harbour seal stock should ideally number at least 12,000 individuals, but is currently around 21% lower. The Institute has thus proposed a direct ban on harbour seal hunting. It has also proposed ways to combat harbour seals landing in fishing nets as by-catch.
As for grey seals, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Iceland’s stocks are considered vulnerable. The Marine and Freshwater Institute has proposed a direct ban on hunting of the species, as well as requiring the registration of any hunting that is excepted from such a ban.
The MFRI believes the economic impact of banning seal hunting would be negligible, as the practice has been on the decline in Iceland for many years. Icelandic residents have until November 4 to send in comments on the proposal.