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 Directorate of Health says it has had to deal with a virtual explosion of diarrhoea cases caused by campylobacter, a bacteria spread mostly by the poor handling of meat. In a statement posted on the Directorate’s website, about 100 cases of campylobacter-caused diarrhoea have been reported over the past year. The afflicted come from many different backgrounds, making it difficult to find the cause of the outbreak. The most common form of campylobacter, Campylobacter jejuni, is often connected to poultry, as the bacteria lives in the digestive tracts of many different bird species, and poorly handled raw chicken is
An Icelander hoping to sell group trips to North Korea has pulled the plug on the operation, citing negative press of the regime as being the major cause. Vísir reports that Egill Örn Arnarson Hansen, the original organiser of the trips through his travel office Trans Atlantic, claims 20 people had signed up for the trip to North Korea since he first announced the trips last December. This was just under the amount that would be needed for a group trip, despite the 600,000 ISK per person price tag. “We had a complete group, but when news stories about concentration
The Environment Agency of Iceland will be paying Iceland’s most sparsely-populated regions for the hunting of foxes, which the agency says have been experiencing a population boom. In a statement posted on the agency’s website, the agency says the number of foxes in Iceland has increased by tenfold over the past 30 years. Foxes in Iceland, as elsewhere in the world, can often be the bane of farmers. The agency hopes to reduce the damage to livestock caused by foxes, albeit within guidelines of what constitutes humane and sustainable hunting. The 3-year plan offers hunting subsidies to rural communities, with
To decrease the speed of drivers on Bergstaðarstræti, actress Vigdís Hrefna Pálsdóttir has been placing flower pots in the middle of the road as traffic calming devices, reports Vísir. “Usually it’s small things – more often than not, flower pots, bags or buckets with flowers in them – that I place in the middle of the street, with more than enough room on either side so that people can drive without hitting them,” said Vigdís. “It’s getting a lot of attention, most people like it and are happy but then the odd black sheep loses it over the flowers.” These odd
Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir has been appointed Police Commissioner of Reykjavík, reports Vísir, she is the first woman to hold this post. In accordance with a new police law, Police Commissioners in Iceland will be cut down from 15 to 9. Additionally two other women have been appointed Police Commissioners, meaning that out of 7 newly appointed Police Commissioners, 3 are women and 4 are men. The move comes in the wake of criticism that the National Police Force has been failing to make good on promises to increase gender equality within the force after three men were appointed to senior positions despite
Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has sent a strongly-worded letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the subject of the “deeply disturbing” attacks Israel is launching against Gaza, urging for “a peaceful resolution”. RÚV reports that the office of Netanyahu has confirmed they have received Sigmundur’s letter, which can be read in its entirety below. In sending the letter, the Prime Minister echoes concerns brought up by other members of the Icelandic government, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson. Iceland’s Foreign Affairs Committee will soon meet to discuss the situation and what action to take. Icelandic