An associate fellow for the Centre for European Reform says that if Iceland wants to join the European Union, then it must stop whaling. Iceland is currently in accession talks with the EU, with agricultural and fishing issues at the forefront of negotiations. Writing on the think tank’s blog, associate fellow Stephen Tindale argues that the EU could be flexible with Iceland on certain areas, but when it comes to fishing and whaling, they should stand firm:
On whaling, the Commission should not move at all. In 2006 Iceland resumed commercial whaling of fin whales and minke whales. Thus it joined Norway in defying the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Iceland has always caught some minke whales for “scientific research”. So the 2006 decision made little practical difference on minke – it simply represented Iceland becoming more open about its reasons for whaling. But it did represent a restart of fin whale hunting. Fin whales are an endangered species. Iceland maintains that there are enough fin whales in Icelandic waters for a small catch to be sustainable. This may or may not be correct, but is anyway not relevant to EU negotiations. EU law prevents the killing of any whales, even those which (like minke) are relatively numerous. EU law is based partly on the need to protect biological diversity, but partly also on the need to prevent animal suffering. Being killed by harpoons is a particularly painful, and often slow, way for an animal to die.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle believes accession talks with Iceland could be complete in 2013. At this time, it will be up to the Icelandic people to decide whether or not they want to join.
A geothermal location in southwest Iceland has been going through some sudden and dramatic changes. Víkufréttir reports that the geothermal area of Gunnuhver has seen quite a transformation recently. The site, which was once a relatively placid patch of gently bubbling clay and wafting sulfuric steam, is now under police lockdown. All steam has disappeared from the area, save for the source of the geothermal spring itself, which alternately bellows hot steam and clay metres into the air. The pedestrian walkway through Gunnuhver has partially collapsed due to the heat and water damage. Below, you can see a video of
A former Minister of Foreign Affairs has made a novel suggestion to end the current international row over Iceland’s whale hunting practices. RÚV reports that former Minister of Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson believes there is a middle way when it comes to whaling: simply hunt the whales that are not endangered: minke whales. In fact, he contends that this is what one can read between the lines of a recent demarche from 35 nations exhorting Iceland to stop hunting fin whales. “Which would be that Icelanders drop hunting fin whales, but may continue hunting minke whales for domestic use,” he
MPs from five parties have proposed the Icelandic government explore building a train between Keflavík and Reykjavík, as well as a train for the greater Reykjavík area. Vísir reports that the proposal has speakers from every parliamentary party except the Pirate Party. Leading the proposal is Left-Green chairperson Katrín Jakobsdóttir, followed by Svandís Svavarsdóttir (Left-Green), Ásmundur Friðriksson (Independence Party), Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir (Progressives), Óttarr Proppé (Bright Future), Karl Garðarsson (Progressives) and Oddný G. Harðardóttir (Social Democrats). The proposal calls for results of the government’s findings on the logistics and possibilities for the trains in 2015. The idea is not a
The Minister of Fisheries, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, says he is concerned by the démarche delivered to the Icelandic government to end the practice of whaling. Sigurður Ingi told RÚV however, that he felt it was important to highlight that all [fishing] organisations operating in Iceland do so sustainably, unlike many of the countries who signed the démarche. “I think that in the past few years we have been too shy about [our sustainable whaling practices] and I think it’s really burned us,” said Sigurður Ingi. “People and companies have maintained for a long time [that whaling has damaged the reputation of
The subsidence of the Bárðarbunga caldera continues, sinking by 45 cm just this morning following an earthquake with the magnitude of 5.4, reports RÚV. Yesterday, Civil Protection (CPEM) reported a subsidence of over 50 cm. Currently there is no information about the progress of the lava flow coming from the Holuhraun eruption. This is because of dangerous conditions which forced scientists to evacuate the area yesterday. Not before posting some excellent pictures and showing off a lava sample on Twitter though. Pahoehoe lava creeping over older lava. Credit: Uni. of Iceland/Johanne Schmithh #Bardarbunga #Holuhraun #Iceland pic.twitter.com/cvMB2f0Nh7 — Univ. of Iceland (@uni_iceland) September
Government-sanctioned budget cuts have forced the Directorate of Labour to let go of some of their employees and cut back on services to the unemployed. “We are struggling with a demand to reduce operational costs by about 100 million [ISK],” Gissur Pétursson, the director of the Directorate, told RÚV. “There is no other choice. We cannot conduct interviews and counseling like we would otherwise want to.” 20 employees have already been let go, operating hours have been shortened, and the service office has been closed. Gissur could not comment on the exact number of employees who will be let go