Whaling Company Seeks 10-Year License

Whaling ships

Iceland’s only whaling operation, Hvalur hf., has applied for a license to hunt fin whales. The company is seeking a five to ten year license from the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Heimildin reports, arguing that this would create “normal predictability” for the company’s operations.

No company has had an active whaling license since the beginning of the year. The hunting of whales remains a controversial practice in Iceland and has been protested by several local and international animal rights groups. The Alþingi Ombudsman concluded in January that Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir did not act in accordance with the law when she temporarily stopped whaling last summer. Svandís announced in June that she would postpone the start of whaling season due to an “unequivocal” opinion on animal welfare produced by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST).

Current law allows for whaling

Hvalur’s application was submitted at the end of January and the ministry is looking to process it as soon as possible. The company first received a whaling license in 1947 when a law on whaling was passed and has operated sporadically since. The law was passed “to secure the protection, development and maximum utilisation of the whale resource”, with consideration to the interests of “the consumers of whale products”.

In January, Svandís said that an independent party would be tasked with reviewing the legislation and administration of whaling. Hvalur hf., however, argues that the application must be processed according to current law and with speed, as preparations for the summer whaling season are underway. Svandís is now on medical leave, with Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir responsible for her duties in the meantime.

Minister’s Temporary Whaling Ban Could Be Extended

Iceland whaling Hvalur hf

Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir’s temporary ban on whaling may be extended, Mbl.is reports. A ministry-organised working group is assessing the compliance of whaling with animal welfare and whaling laws.

Temporary ban announced

On June 20, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, announced a temporary halt to the hunting of fin whales until August 31. The decision was prompted by a specialist council’s report revealing non-compliance with the Act on Animal Welfare.

Mbl.is reports a ministry-organised working group will assess the compliance of whaling with animal welfare and whaling laws in the coming weeks: “From the time that regulation no. 642/​2023 was enacted, the ministry has deliberated on refining hunting methods and equipment for large whales to align with Act No. 55/2013 and Act No. 26/1949,” the Ministry’s answer reads.

The working group, following its assessment, is expected to offer alternatives or potential solutions to the ministry, indicating that the “temporary” ban might be extended if the group determines that current whaling practices can’t meet animal welfare laws.