On Wednesday, the West Iceland Healthcare Committee (i.e. Heilbrigðisnefnd Vesturlands) agreed to renew the temporary operating licence of the whaling company Hvalur until July 12 at the latest. The extension was granted on the basis of the principle of proportionality.
Temporary licence initially granted until May 1, 2023
On June 3 2022, the whaling company Hvalur hf. – the only whaling company still operating in Iceland – applied for a new operating licence from the West Iceland Healthcare Committee (i.e. Heilbrigðisnefnd Vesturlands). At the same time, Hvalur also applied for a temporary extension, which the committee granted until May 1, 2023, while the permanent licence was being processed.
A proposal for Hvalur’s renewed operational licence was advertised on the Healthcare Committee’s website on May 12, 2023, with the deadline for comments expiring on June 9 (those comments are still being reviewed.)
As the permanent licence had not been approved, Kristján Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur, asked the West Iceland Healthcare Committee to extend the company’s temporary operating licence, and the application was discussed at meetings on Monday and Wednesday this week.
The meeting minutes note that, according to the law, the committee is permitted to extend the validity period of an operating licence while a new one is being processed for up to one year. Last year, the committee extended Hvalur’s temporary licence until May 1, 2023, or for nine months, as the committee assumed that Hvalur’s application for a new licence had been processed by that time.
“During the processing period, the Health Inspectorate made demands on various improvements relating to the current operating licence, especially as regards pollution prevention. According to the information that the committee has received, Hvalur has worked to remedy these deficiencies, with improvements being either completed or at an advanced stage.”
According to the information the committee had received, Hvalur aimed to conclude these improvements on June 19. The committee has thus decided to extend Hvalur’s temporary operating licence:
“With reference to the proportionality principle of the administrative law, the committee believes that the conditions exist to extend Hvalur’s operating licence temporarily, until the time a new licence has been issued, although never longer than until July 12, 2023, when the statutory maximum extension is reached.”
As reported earlier this week, the Ministry of the Environment plans to dismiss Hvalur’s request for an exemption from an operating licence, as the West Iceland Healthcare Committee already had the licence under consideration. As noted by Vísir, it is clear that if permission is not obtained, the whaling season would be delayed; it usually starts in mid-June.