Iceland’s Whaling Resumes Under Tight Regulations

Iceland’s government has lifted the summer suspension on whaling, allowing hunting to resume under strict new regulations. This decision has sparked fury among opponents of whaling, who are calling for an end to the practice. While Fisheries and Foods Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir acknowledges the changing values of Icelanders, she is bound by the legal framework set by her predecessor. Iceland is the last nation in the world that hunts large whales, with only one company, Hvalur, involved in whaling.

The decision to resume whaling has been met with both support and opposition within Iceland. The International Fund for Animal Welfare believes that this year may be the final year of whaling in Iceland, citing increasing solidarity within the government to permanently end the practice. However, many Icelanders see whaling as a matter of sovereignty and independence, and continuing the tradition is a question of national identity.

Under the strict regulations, hunting fin whales is limited to a distance of 25m (80ft) from the boat, and calves are prohibited from being involved. Hunting must take place in daylight, with no use of electricity. Proper training, equipment, and methods are also required. These new regulations aim to make whaling more costly and difficult to conduct, and profits from whaling have already declined.

Public opinion within Iceland is divided on whaling. A recent survey suggested that 51% of Icelanders oppose whaling, but it is believed that many Members of Parliament still support the practice. The Left-Greens party, to which the food minister belongs, supports a ban, but some Icelanders assert that continuing whaling is a matter of national pride.

Opponents of whaling argue that there are no valid arguments for the practice and that it is to Iceland’s shame that one company, operated by Kristjan Loftsson, continues to hunt whales. An injunction has been filed to prevent hunting from resuming, and concerns about a potential Hollywood boycott of Iceland have been raised.

Iceland, Norway, and Japan are the only countries that allow commercial whaling, with Iceland being the sole country that permits the killing of longer fin whales. Annual quotas in Iceland allow for the killing of 209 fin whales and 217 smaller minke whales. The summer whaling season in Iceland traditionally ends by the end of September.

While the decision to resume whaling has been met with controversy, it remains up to parliament and society to discuss the future of whaling in Iceland. As the debate continues, the fate of whales and the preservation of their species hang in the balance.