This year’s whale hunt season in Iceland could be delayed by several weeks after a permit required by the company behind the hunts to kill hundreds of whales ran out, and a new permit has yet to be issued by government officials. This may mark the end of whaling in Iceland for good.
Traditionally, whaler Kristján Loftsson and his whaling ships depart to slaughter whales around the 17th June, Iceland's Independence Day. But, in order to be allowed to cut up the dead whales at processing facilities on land, a special permit from the Icelandic Health Authority is required.
The existing license for Loftsson’s company expired on May 1st but, despite seeking an extension to start the hunts on time, the government has yet to issue one. Loftsson had also applied for an exemption from the licence altogether, but this application was rejected.
Loftsson and his whaling company Hvalur hf. have two weeks to lodge an objection, or withdraw the application altogether.
This now means that the prospect of Hvalur hf. being granted a renewal of its licence before the start of the whaling season is slim and many whales could be saved from death as a result. The authority needs data on the processing and disposal of waste from the whale products. Hvalur hf. has provided this information immediately, but the Health Authority has announced that it will process the application under the usual and lawful procedure. In addition, the proposed issue of a new licence is set up in such a way that the public has the opportunity to object. A new survey has revealed 51 percent of Icelanders are now against the hunting, up from 42 percent four years ago.
Luke McMillan, WDC’ campaigner, has seen the local view on whaling in Iceland change in recent times. ‘In Reykjavik, I've witnessed a remarkable shift in public sentiment, as they pressure the government to enact change. We're on the brink of ending Icelandic whaling, fueled further by this landmark three-week delay. To put this in perspective, in the first three weeks of the 2022 season, around 30 whales were killed. Global activists and supporters have my gratitude for their tireless efforts in this critical moment, as we strive to save whales from Hvalur hf's deadly harpoons.’
Together with our partner organisation Hard To Port, we recently alerted government officials to violations of animal welfare laws in the Icelandic fin whale hunt. Government officials have been confronted with evidence that in many cases the explosive charges of the harpoons used do not detonate when fired at the fin whales, and the whales are subjected to an agonizing ordeal. This led to the government ordering mandatory monitoring on whaling vessels by vets. Their report has since been published revealing appalling video footage exposing the enormous cruelty of the hunts, with some whales suffering for up to two hours after being shot with a harpoon.
Fin whales are classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Nevertheless, 148 fin whales were killed in the Icelandic hunt last year. Given the low demand for the meat and the scientific evidence of the whales' important role in combating climate change, it makes no sense to continue with this cruel slaughter.