Monday, May 27, 2024

Iceland to Resume Whaling, But With Restrictions


Iceland’s minister of food, agriculture and fisheries has announced that the country will again allow fin whaling, beginning September 1st, but with stricter requirements.

Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir previously announced on June 20th that Iceland would temporarily halt the hunting of fin whales until August 31st. That decision came one day after the country’s Expert Advisory Board on Animal Welfare submitted a report concluding that the commercial killing of whales doesn’t comply with Iceland’s Animal Welfare Act.

In her notice issued this week, Svavarsdottir stated that whalers would face new requirements for supervision, training and education.

The move was met with criticism from whale advocates.

Kate O’Connell, senior policy consultant for the Animal Welfare Institute’s marine life program, said:

“The Animal Welfare Institute is disappointed in the Icelandic government’s decision to allow commercial fin whaling to resume. This determination will surely condemn many whales to a cruel, unnecessary death. It is at least some consolation that the new regulation will ban the use of electricity as a killing method, as this has not been proven to be an effective method of euthanasia.”

No commercial whaling for fin whales — a threatened species — occurred in Iceland in 2019, 2020 and 2021. In 2022, the Hvalur hf. whaling company resumed activities, and 148 fin whales were killed.

According to O’Connell:

“Iceland’s whaling quotas are not approved by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the global organization responsible for the conservation of whales and management of whaling. Any whaling by Iceland undermines the effectiveness of the commercial whaling moratorium imposed by the IWC in 1986. Further, the country’s ongoing export of whale products to Japan disregards a global ban on commercial trade imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Iceland’s international reputation as a premiere nature destination is consistently eroded by these actions in defiance of international treaties. Living whales provide enormous benefits to local coastal communities and ocean ecosystems.

“Despite today’s decision, we hope that Hvalur’s whaling permit will not be renewed in future seasons, and AWI will continue to push for an end to all commercial whaling.”

In August 2022, Svavarsdottir issued a new whaling welfare regulation requiring Iceland’s Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) to carry out regular inspections of whaling hunts. The inspections’ purpose was to promote improved animal welfare during whaling.

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.