Minister’s Temporary Whaling Ban Could Be Extended

Iceland whaling Hvalur hf

Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir’s temporary ban on whaling may be extended, 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. 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.

No Whaling This Summer: Minister Halts Fin Whale Hunting

Iceland whaling Hvalur hf

Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, has decided to temporarily halt the hunting of fin whales until August 31. The decision follows on the heels of a report authored by a council of specialists on animal welfare, which found that fishing methods do not comply with the Act on Animal Welfare.

Two reports, one conclusion

As noted in a press release published on the government’s website today, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) authored a report on the welfare of whales during hunting, which was received by the ministry in May 2023. The report found that the killing of whales took too long based on the main objectives of the Act on Animal Welfare.

MAST subsequently commissioned a council on animal welfare specialists to assess whether whaling could meet the objectives of the Act on Animal Welfare. The council’s opinion was received by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries yesterday, June 19. The report concluded that the fishing method used when hunting large whales did not comply with the Act on Animal Welfare.

Given this finding, the Minister has decided to postpone the start of the whaling season, a day before whaling was set to begin, so that there is room to investigate whether it is possible to ensure that the hunting is carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Act on Animal Welfare.

“I have made the decision to temporarily stop whaling in light of the unequivocal opinion of the council of animal welfare specialists,” the Minister is quoted as saying. “The conditions of the Act on Animal Welfare are inescapable in my mind: if the government and licence holders cannot guarantee welfare requirements, this activity does not have a future.”

This article will be updated.

All Ministers’ First COVID Test Negative

None of the government ministers currently in quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19 during a dinner in Southwest Iceland tested negative for the virus in their first screening, RÚV reports.

See Also: All But Two Ministers in Quarantine After Possible COVID Exposure

On August 18, cabinet ministers held a governmental meeting in the village of Hella in Southwest Iceland and then all of them, excepting Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir and Minister for Social Affairs and Children Ásmundur Einar Daðason, went to dinner together at Hótel Rangá.

Following the dinner, contact tracers traced two active COVID-19 infections to the hotel, and immediately focused their containment efforts to three groups of guests, one of which included the ministers. It’s thought unlikely that the cabinet was exposed to the virus during their dinner, but ministers and civil protection authorities are proceeding with the screening and quarantine measures out of an abundance of caution.

Authorities have since conducted extensive tests among hotel staff and guests; people who had breakfast during a specific window on Sunday morning have been directed to quarantine. The Directorate of Health announced on Friday that eight of the ten people diagnosed that day with active COVID infections had stayed at the hotel.

The ministers will remain in quarantine until their second tests, scheduled for Monday, also come back with negative results.


Minister’s Office Dissolved Two Weeks After Court’s Ruling

Bishop of Iceland Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir.

Rev. Páll Ágúst Ólafsson, regional minister in West Iceland, received a letter from the Bishop of Iceland, Agnes M Sigurðardóttir, two weeks after the Reykjavík District Court ruled that his appointment by the Bishop had not been according to law, according to RÚV. In the letter, the Bishop notified Páll that his office had been dissolved but he was owed six months’ salary. Páll has subpoenaed both the Bishop and the Church of Iceland because of this decision and is insisting that it be annulled by the courts.

Páll was appointed parish minister at Staðarstaður five years ago. During his time there, he quarrelled with the Bishop, among other reasons because he considered the vicarage at Staðarstaður uninhabitable due to mould. He and his family moved away from the vicarage and the Bishop relieved him from his duty of residence, which proved unpopular with local parishioners.

In September last year, the Bishop tried to solve matters by appointing Páll regional minister in West Iceland. Páll wasn’t happy with the duration of his appointment and thought he should hold the position until 2022, not 2018 as had been decided. The case went before the court where Páll won. The Bishop had not followed the law when appointing Páll regional minister and should issue a new letter of appointment, valid until June 30, 2022. The Bishop decided to appeal the case to a higher court.

According to RÚV’s sources, Páll was notified two weeks after the court’s ruling that the office of regional minister in West Iceland had been dissolved but he was owed six months’ salary. Páll is currently insisting before the court that the Bishop’s decision is annulled and if it is not, that he be paid damages.