Iceland gave the green light to resume whaling on Friday after suspending it for more than two months in the name of animal welfare, much to the dismay of animal rights activists.
The Icelandic government suspended the practice for two months in late June after publishing a report concluding that whaling was not in line with animal welfare laws.
“Whaling can resume tomorrow,” the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said in a statement to AFP on Thursday.
Iceland is one of the last three countries to allow whaling, along with Norway and Japan.
This decision was received very negatively by animal rights groups who hoped to see an end to this controversial practice.
Agriculture Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir “inexplicably chose to ignore the clear scientific conclusions she demanded that show that commercial whaling is cruel and brutal,” reacted Ruud Tombrock, executive director of Humane Society International (HSI), in a press release.
This report from the country’s veterinary authorities found that the killing of whales was taking too long. Recently released videos by authorities showed the shocking ordeal of a hunted whale last year, which lasted five hours.
To justify this green light for the resumption of hunting, the Ministry considers in a press release that “there is a basis for a change in hunting methods, leading to fewer irregularities and therefore an improvement from the point of view of animal welfare”. .
The fishing license of the country’s last active hunting company, Hvalur, expires in 2023. It had already announced that this season would be its last due to the fishing’s declining profitability.
The company did not respond to the government’s decision, but according to the Icelandic press, its boats went out to sea this week to explore in anticipation of the decision.
The sole holder of a fishing license in Iceland “must follow the regulations issued by the ministry today,” the ministry adds.
These regulations “provide for more stringent and detailed requirements for equipment and hunting methods, as well as increased monitoring.”
For animal welfare advocates, no change in hunting methods can meet the animal’s conservation needs.
“Whale conservation is a critical need. “This decision is a unique missed opportunity to put an end to this massacre at sea,” reacted the head of the NGO HSI.
The annual quotas allow the killing of 209 fin whales – the second largest marine mammal after the blue whale – and 217 minke whales.
However, due to falling demand for whale meat, catches have been significantly lower in recent years.
In Iceland, opposition to the practice is now a majority opinion among the population: 51% of Icelanders are against it, compared to 42% four years ago, according to a poll by the Maskina Institute, the results of which were published in early June.