Iceland’s new Minister of Fisheries, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, who also serves as minister of finance and agriculture, has decided to review the commercial whaling quota issued by his predecessor Einar K. Gudfinnsson last week.
The government agreed yesterday to issue a formal warning to those who are involved with whaling on a possible annulment of the quota regulation or amendments to it, Fréttabladid reports.
Minister of Finance, Fisheries and Agriculture Steingrímur J. Sigfússon. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.
Chairman of the Akranes Labor Union Vilhjálmur Birgisson said it is incomprehensible that the minister considers revoking Gudfinsson’s quota decision. “We are experiencing significant unemployment and it is clear that whaling would create up to 300 new jobs.”
“The government has discussed restoring the employment market and I ask myself, what other solution could the government offer that could provide so many people with work?” Birgisson added.
The Akranes Labor Union and the local authorities are holding a meeting tonight to discuss whaling, inviting ministers and those involved in whaling to attend.
According to a new opinion poll, undertaken last weekend by Capacent Gallup for Sjávarnytjar, a company involved in fishing, 67.2 percent of respondents said they supported commercial whaling. Roughly 1,500 people were contacted at random with 60.5 percent participating in the poll.
Karl V. Matthíasson, vice-chair of the Althingi parliament’s fisheries committee and MP for the Social Democrats, criticized the whaling quota issued by Gudfinnsson for being unfair since only two fishing companies fulfill the requirements on minke hunting and only Hvalur hf. can hunt fin whales. Matthíasson said Iceland’s natural resources should be harnessed but that such actions should be based on equality.
Birkir Jón Jónsson, vice-chair of the Progressive Party which has declared its support for commercial whaling, said he doesn’t believe Sigfússon will make any decisions on whaling before discussing it with the Progressive Party, which is backing the Social-Democrat-Left-Green minority government.
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