Iceland Appeals to Hunters, Restaurateurs to Protect Puffins Skip to content

Iceland Appeals to Hunters, Restaurateurs to Protect Puffins

By Ragnar Tómas

A puffin resting on a grassy cliff.
Photo: Photo: Golli. A puffin resting on a grassy cliff. .

The Environment Agency of Iceland and the Ministry for the Environment are urging hunters and restaurateurs to limit puffin hunting and sales due to a significant population decline over the past 30 years. Environmental conditions and hunting impacts have contributed to the decline, and continued practices threaten further decreases in the vulnerable puffin population.

Appeals to hunters, restaurateurs

According to data from the South Iceland Nature Centre – which is responsible for monitoring puffins along Iceland’s coast – the puffin population in Iceland has “declined significantly over the past 30 years.” Last year, the South Iceland Nature Centre proposed a hunting ban. In light of this decline, the Environment Agency and the Ministry for the Environment, Energy, and Climate are appealing to hunters and restaurateurs. 

Read More: When Do Puffins Arrive in Iceland?

In an article published yesterday, the Environment Agency of Iceland noted that in developing a management and protection plan for puffins, the agency engaged Dr. Fred A. Johnson and Dr. Carl Walters to review the data and assess the impact of hunting on the puffin population.

Their main findings indicate that the long-term decline in Iceland’s puffin population is likely due to cumulative hunting impacts and unfavourable environmental conditions, such as high sea temperatures. “Warming periods in the Atlantic over the past three decades have reduced the availability of key puffin food sources. Continued hunting at previous levels is expected to further decrease this vulnerable population,” the article states.

Given this, the Environment Agency of Iceland and the Ministry for the Environment, Energy, and Climate urge hunters to exercise restraint and call for the hospitality sector to reconsider including puffin on their menus, given that a significant portion of the annual puffin catch is sold to restaurants.

As noted in IR last year, Iceland plays host to a significant portion of the world’s puffins, with approximately 20% of the global population nesting in the Westman Islands every year. The puffin population is believed to have shrunk by 70% in the last thirty years.

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