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Permit delays could stop whale hunts in Iceland this summer

Icelandic hunting vessels in port

As whaling ships go out to hunt for another season in Norway, news from Iceland is more positive following an announcement from the CEO of the nation’s only whaling company that it is unlikely he will send boats out to kill whales this year.

Kristján Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur hf., is quoted as saying that, ‘as it stands right now, we have no hope of whaling this summer’.

The company can not hunt without a licence and, despite applying to the government in January, the ministry of food, agriculture and fisheries has yet to grant one. The situation is further complicated by the appointment of new government ministers in various parliamentary positions, which has put hunting in Iceland in a state of limbo. A new fisheries minister, Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir of the Left-Green Movement has replaced her fellow party member, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, who was set to face a vote of no confidence in Alþingi, Iceland’s parliament, for temporarily stopping whaling last summer on animal welfare grounds - a move later declared by officials as not being in accordance with the law.
New minister Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir has previously stated that she too is not fully behind the practice of whaling in Iceland and that it harms the country’s valuable tourism industry.

Whaler, Kristján Loftsson said, ‘when we don’t know if a license will be issued we can’t start hiring people and buying supplies, which is a necessary prerequisite for whaling.’

WDC recently sent a comprehensive report to the Icelandic government urging that it calls a decisive halt to whaling activities. It details compelling reasons for whaling licences not to be granted that range from ethical concerns and a lack of economic impact, to failure to adhere to international commitments. 

We campaigned vigorously last year to stop cruel whaling in Iceland, alerting government officials to violations of animal welfare laws. Our work helped to save whales by shortening the hunt season, which normally starts in June. Sadly, 23 fin whales were still killed.

With your help we will continue to galvanise support from within Iceland and continue to expose these pointless and brutal hunts.