Whaling CEO Cannot Foresee Summer Hunts Skip to content

Whaling CEO Cannot Foresee Summer Hunts

By Ragnar Tómas

Iceland whaling Hvalur hf
Photo: Golli. A whale at Hvalur hf.’s whaling station in 2015.
explorers edge

Kristján Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur hf., does not expect to hunt fin whales this summer despite a newly issued permit, Mbl.is reports. Citing a lack of preparation time and predictability, Kristján has criticised the Left-Green Movement for deliberately making whaling difficult and calls the permit insufficient for operational needs. A board member of the Animal Welfare Association of Iceland has called for the end of fin-whale hunting.

No whaling without predictability

As reported yesterday, Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, issued a permit for fin whale hunting this year. The allowable catch is 99 animals in the Greenland/West Iceland area and 29 in the East Iceland/Faroe Islands area, totalling 128 animals. The minister stated that the government was obligated to issue the permit despite her own personal stance on the matter.

Despite Bjarkey issuing the permit, Kristján Loftsson, CEO and major owner of Hvalur hf. – Iceland’s only whaling company – does not expect to be able to hunt whales this summer.

“I do not foresee any whaling this summer, as we use the time between seasons to prepare for next year’s hunts. Most people understand this – but not these ministers from the Left-Green Movement,” Kristján told Morgunblaðið in an interview published this morning, adding that Hvalur needed to hire experienced workers and procure various operational supplies. “If predictability is not present, this is hopeless.”

Kristján further stated that no business could operate under such unpredictable conditions: “This permit is issued for 204 days. If the minister wants to kill this business, this is the way to do it. There is no predictability, and thinking that such an operation can be started without notice is absurd.”

Kristján believes that the Left-Green Movement planned to make whaling difficult: “It is obvious that these people have been playing around, pretending to have been weighing the matter and now suddenly emerging from their deep meditations. This is a premeditated plan by these people, Bjarkey, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and Svandís Svavarsdóttir,” he observed. “They have all been involved since the application was submitted. This has been a legal business the entire time, since 1948.”

Humane hunting an impossibility

As noted by several media outlets yesterday, it appears as if no one is satisfied with Bjarkey’s decision. In an interview during the nightly news on Channel 2 yesterday, Sigursteinn Másson, a board member of the Animal Welfare Association of Iceland, expressed his disapproval of the new permit:

“These are not normal or usual animal hunts,” Sigursteinn stated, noting that during an inspection by the Food and Veterinary Authority, it had been revealed that two explosive harpoons had struck a third of the whales.

Sigursteinn observed that fin whales were the second largest animals on earth, weighing about 50 tonnes and measuring twenty metres in length. Given this, it was difficult to hunt such large animals, and it was becoming evident that it was impossible to hunt these animals humanely in any way, Sigursteinn maintained. “Therefore, this must stop,” he stated.

“This practice is predicated on 75-year-old laws,” Sigursteinn continued, adding that at the same time that these laws were enacted, embarking on a safari in Africa to hunt elephants and rhinos was considered acceptable; animal welfare standards were entirely different then, and the Animal Welfare Association of Iceland believes these hunts should be consigned to history.

“This must end, and we must face our times. There are entirely different demands now than when these whaling laws were enacted in 1949,” Sigursteinn concluded by saying, adding that parliament should repeal these laws.

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