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In a significant move aimed at upholding animal welfare standards, Iceland suspends whale hunting until September. The country’s Fisheries Minister, Svandis Svavarsdottir, made the announcement through a statement on the government’s official website.
She admitted, “The method employed in hunting large whales does not comply with the Act on Animal Welfare.”
The decision comes in response to an expert advisory board’s conclusion that the hunting method employed for large whales does not comply with the Act on Animal Welfare.
A recent report released by Iceland’s Food and Veterinary Authority highlighted violations of animal welfare regulations during whale hunting operations. The report revealed that the killing of animals took longer than the legally allowed time frame. As a result, Minister Svavarsdottir made the decision to halt whaling activities. The Ministry of Fisheries now aims to seek the opinions of experts and license holders to explore possible improvements and legal conditions that can lead to stricter limitations on whaling.
Iceland remains one of the three countries actively engaged in commercial whale hunting, alongside Japan and Norway. However, Minister Svavarsdottir expressed her belief last year that the practice of whale hunting should be completely phased out in Iceland starting in 2024. This recent decision to pause fin whale hunting aligns with her stance on the issue and showcases Iceland’s commitment to animal welfare.
The suspension of hunting fin whales is not entirely new for Iceland. In 2016, due to a decline in demand for whale meat in Japan, Iceland temporarily stopped hunting fin whales. However, the practice was resumed during the 2018 hunting season. According to a statement issued by the animal rights group Humane Society International/Europe, only one minke whale was killed between 2019 and 2021, while 148 fin whales were hunted in 2022. It is important to note that fin whales are classified as globally vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The decision to halt fin whale hunting has been hailed as a major milestone in compassionate whale conservation by Ruud Tombrock, the executive director of HSI/Europe. In a statement, Tombrock expressed his satisfaction with the news and commended Minister Svavarsdottir for putting an end to what he referred to as “senseless whale killing.” He emphasized that this decision would spare hundreds of minke and imperiled fin whales from agonizing and protracted deaths.
Therefore, Iceland suspending whale hunting until September represents a significant step towards prioritizing animal welfare and embracing more compassionate practices. By acknowledging the violations of animal welfare regulations and seeking expert opinions on potential improvements, Iceland is actively addressing concerns raised by experts and animal rights organizations.
This decision further highlights Iceland’s willingness to adapt and evolve its policies to safeguard the well-being of marine life. It is hoped that this pause in whale hunting will contribute to the long-term protection and conservation of these magnificent creatures in the face of mounting global efforts to preserve marine biodiversity.