Victory! Icelandic Minister Suspends Fin Whaling Due To Animal Welfare Violations

Photo by: IFAW

Icelandic Fisheries Minister, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, announced the suspension of the fin whale hunt in Iceland until August 31st. This decision follows the conclusions made by Iceland’s Animal Welfare Board experts, that methods used to hunt whales does not comply with the Icelandic Animal Welfare Act.

This news will come as a major blow to the last commercial whaler in Iceland, Kristjan Loftsson, and his whaling company Hvalur hf, who have fought tirelessly to keep the hunt alive.

“It’s a kill shot – Mr. Loftsson’s whaling season has been scuttled before his ships have even left the harbor. This is fresh thinking for Iceland and bold action by the Minister of Fisheries and we commend her and the Icelandic government for it” said Patrick Ramage, Senior Director at IFAW.

Long-time IFAW Icelandic representative Sigursteinn Masson said, “This is tremendously encouraging news and a very important step toward the end of whaling in Iceland.”

Just last month, an unprecedented Icelandic government study showed that over 40% of whales killed during the whaling season last year suffered slow and painful deaths. Following a report that analyzed surveillance footage showing that whales could take as long as two hours to die during the hunts, it was agreed a quick death cannot be guaranteed on whale hunts.

“This could be the final curtain call for commercial whaling in Iceland,” said Sharon Livermore, IFAW Director of Marine Conservation. “An instant death cannot be guaranteed for these whales, and the suffering is unimaginable. Clearly, the Icelandic government can see no future in this outdated practice.”

“IFAW has always affirmed that there is simply no humane way to kill a whale. Now, Iceland’s Animal Welfare Board has concluded that it is not possible to hunt a whale without causing huge amounts of stress nor to determine if the whale is a lactating mother – key requirements of the country’s Animal Welfare Act.”

The current whaling quota is due to expire at the end of 2023, after which a new five-year quota would need to be authorized by the Fisheries Minister. This, alongside the timely decision to pause whaling this summer, signals that this could be a critical turning point for the Icelandic Government to assess the future of whaling in the country.

Although the whale hunt suspension is only until August 31st., this is a step in the right direction.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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