Whale Reserve in Southwest Iceland Extended Skip to content

Whale Reserve in Southwest Iceland Extended

One of the last tasks of Steingrímur J. Sigfússon while in office as minister of industries and innovation was to issue a regulation on Monday extending the reserve for whales in Faxaflói bay, off Reykjavík in Southwest Iceland. The regulation took affect at midnight.

whalewatching_ipaPhoto copyright Icelandic Photo Agency.

“This came as a complete surprise as the hunting season has just begun. Now our main grounds are being excluded and we therefore have to reevaluate the situation from the start,” spokesperson of minke whale hunters Gunnar Bergmann Jónsson told Fréttablaðið.

A larger reserve means longer tours and more licensed hunters onboard whaling boats, which is highly expensive, Gunnar added.

According to the new regulation, the reserve stretches from Garðskagi on Reykjanes peninsula in the south to Skógarnes on Snæfellsnes peninsula in the north, but it used to stretch between Garðskagi and to the north of Akranes.

Steingrímur reasoned his decision by the increasing extent and national importance of whale watching. However, the reserve wasn’t enlarged to the extent recommended by a commission on policy making on whaling.

Chair of the Whale Watching Association of Iceland Rannveig Grétarsdóttir stated the regulation is a step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough.

“We want the area to stretch from the tip of Snæfellsnes peninsula to Eldey [island] as whale watching is starting from Keflavík,” she said.

Rannveig added that minke whaling has taken place near the old reserve and that they’ve noticed a change in the behavior of minkes.

“We see fewer animals on every tour and the animals we do see are more timid. It could be because of the hunting and even though we cannot say so with absolute certainty we believe the risk is simply too high,” Rannveig concluded.


10.05.2013 | First Minke Whale of the Season Hunted

08.05.2013 | Icelandic Tourism Association Protests Whale Hunting

03.05.2013 | Whale Hunting to Recommence in Iceland


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