The whaling fleet Hvalur hf. will resume commercial hunting of fin whales this summer after a two year break, company director Kristján Loftsson confirmed to Vísir last week. According to Kristján, his company will begin whaling in early June and continue until the end of September. Two boats, Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9, and 150 workers will see to the operation. The company has a yearly quota to hunt between 150-170 fin whales, which are listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List. Commercial whaling was revived in Iceland in 2009 when Einar K. Guðfinnsson, then Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture passed a controversial law granting whaling vessels to hunt fin and minke whales for the next five years. The current license thus expires at the end of the 2013 season. The key market for whale caught in Icelandic waters is Japan, where some 2000 tons of whale meat was exported between 2008-2011. During the following two years, Hvalur hf. suspended its operations at sea due to a decline in Japanese demand after the 2011 Tsunami. While Kristján claims the demand for whale meat is now again on the rise in Japan, he does not say how much he expects to sell. In 2010 Hvalur hf. is reported to have killed 150 fin whales. Animal welfare and conservation groups have expressed concern over Iceland’s most recent disregard for the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) ban on commercial whaling, Animal Connection reports. They are urging European and US leaders to impose tougher diplomatic sanctions on Iceland for persisting to hunt the endangered fin whale. A representative of Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) maintains that Iceland’s hunting of whales is unnecessary and cruel not least because few Icelanders regularly consume the minke whale that is sold domestically. She claims it is mostly sold as a novelty to tourists.
The managing director of one of Iceland’s largest trade unions says they are “extremely worried” about workers in the tourism industry. “We are extremely worried about [workers within] this field,” Drífa Snædal, the Managing Director of the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS), told Vísir. “If Iceland intends to build up the tourism industry, it will have to really clean house.” Drífa says that unions around the country have had to deal with reports of employees filing grievances, mostly about being paid unfairly. “There are two types of groups within the tourism industry,” she said. “Those who
The beleagured Faroese fishing vessel that ordinary Icelanders assisted despite the cold shoulder from government has bid our fair shores farewell. MBL reports that Næraberg departed from Reykjavík harbour at about 6:00 this morning. At the time of this writing, the ship is about halfway to Greenland, presumably to resume fishing mackerel. As reported, the ship was sailing from Greenland when it encountered engine trouble and radioed Iceland for permission to dock in Reykjavík harbour to conduct repairs. However, citing an obscure law about fishing rights, Icelandic authorities initially only allowed permission for the ship to dock – the crew
The high winds and rain Iceland has been experiencing over the past 36 hours or so are the remains of what was Hurricane Cristobal. Iceland’s mercurial weather caught the attention of science buffs overseas, as Discover Magazine reported late last night that the storm formerly known as Hurrican Cristobal was taking “dead aim” at Iceland. Hurricanes are not common to more northern latitudes. In fact, Cristobal had changed into what is known as a “warm seclusion cyclone” by the time it reached Iceland. This kind of cyclone is characterised by a center of warm, wet air surrounded by cooler air.
Björk’s Biophilia tour went on for almost two years, scoring a huge hit with critics and audiences around the world due to it’s innovative, immersive production. After a long process of trying to fund a definitive concert film of the project, it came right down to the wire, with the final show at London’s cavernous Alexandria Palace becoming the subject of Biophilia Live. BAFTA-award winning editor and filmmaker Nick Fenton, speaking of his experience as co-director, said: “We felt like security guards, in a little booth surrounded by screens and talking to sixteen cameramen and women. You couldn’t feel further
Holuhraun is the best possible location for an eruption, geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson has told RÚV. Although the magma flow from Holuhraun is considerable and steady, Magnús Tumi does not feel it qualifies as a large eruption. New data indicates that approximately 250 cubic metres of magma is spewing out of the fissure each second. According to Magnús Tumi, the current Holuhraun eruption is completely different to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010. Given that the Holuhraun eruption is entirely above ground and a mainly basalt eruption it is producing no disruptive ash. The Eyjafjalljökull eruption on the other hand was
The Holuhraun eruption, which began again yesterday with magma plumes as high as 60 metres, is going strong and might see out the year, reports RÚV. “The eruption is comparable to the one we saw from Krafla [in 1975],” said volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson. “At first there was just a tiny eruption then the eruptions got gradually larger as time passed. It’s possible that this event will last until the end of the year, possibly into some of next year as well.” Seismic activity continues at Vatnajökull though none topped 4.9 on the Richter scale yesterday, presumably because the eruption has alleviated some