The Icelandic government announced on Tuesday, June 20, to suspend whaling until the end of August, in the name of animal welfare.
“I have made the decision to temporarily stop whaling” until August 31, said Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir, citing the terms of Iceland’s animal welfare law. “The requirements of the Animal Welfare Act are unavoidable in my mind, if the government and licensees cannot guarantee the welfare requirements, this business has no future”said the minister in a communicated.
The Ministry will examine possible improvements and legal conditions for imposing further restrictions on hunting, based on the Animal Welfare Act and the Whaling Act, in the coming months and will request the advice from experts and licensees for this purpose.
Opposition to this majority practice
The last active hunting company in the country, Hvalur, had already announced that this season would be its last due to the declining profitability of fishing. Iceland’s whaling season runs from mid-June to mid-September, but activity is unlikely to resume after August 31.
Annual quotas allow for the killing of 209 fin whales – the second longest marine mammal after the blue whale – and 217 minke whales. But catches have been significantly lower in recent years due to lower demand for whale meat.
And opposition to this practice is now a majority opinion among the population: 51% of Icelanders are opposed to it, against 42% four years ago, shows a investigation carried out by the Maskina Institute, the results of which were made public at the beginning of June.
Especially since the killing of these cetaceans takes too long, and is contrary to Icelandic law, according to a report by the country’s veterinary authorities. Videos recently released by these authorities had shown the shocking agony of a whale hunted last year, which lasted for five hours.
Iceland, Norway and Japan are the only countries that allow whaling.