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.
Civil Protection in Iceland would like to remind the general public that illegally entering the eruption area could be dangerous or even fatal. RÚV reports that the tracks of at least six separate interlopers were found entering the cordoned-off area surrounding the Holuhraun eruption. Víðir Reynisson of Civil Protection in Iceland wants to remind people that the area is closed off for a reason. “This is the most dangerous place in Iceland,” he told reporters. “We have to ask people to just think before they go out and do something [like this].” Víðir points out that poisonous SO2 gas emanating
The police have declined to prosecute a case of child abuse at a local playschool, and the Ombudsman for Children says this is based on a legal misunderstanding. As reported, the playschool Leikskólinn 101 was shut down in August 2013 after video evidence of child abuse reached city authorities. RÚV reports that one of the parents of the children at the playschool filed criminal charges, but the police declined to investigate the matter. The reasoning for this was because the child in question was spanked and, in a response from the police, they did not feel this caused “physical or
The likelihood of an eruption in the Bárðarbunga caldera is increasing, says volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson. “It is becoming more likely that there will be an eruption under the glacier at Bárðarbunga,” Ármann told Vísir. “The eruption in Holuhraun can’t handle much more and this shit has to come out somewhere.” Ármann reiterates however, that technically Holuhraun counts as Bárðarbunga as it is located within the Bárðarbunga area. If an eruption took place in the caldera under the ice it would have serious repercussions. “There would be a flood, likely up north and a considerable ash cloud,” said Ármann. “It could
The number of people going whale watching is growing rapidly, reports RÚV. An estimated 10.000 people will go whale watching this year with Arctic Sea Tours in Dalvík for example, a significant increase on last year when 6.400 people went. “We see whales about 98% of the time, and humpbacks about 94% of the time. The humpback whale is people’s favourite and is quite curious and playful in nature,” said Arctic Sea Tours owner,Freyr Antonsson. “[When we started offering year-round tours], we came up against the weather a bit over the winter but I can’t be anything other than pleased
Another labour union group has criticised the proposed 2015 budget, while Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson doubts unions will make good on their threat to walk out over it. In a new statement from the Húsavík Labour Union Office (Framsýn) entitled “The heart of the government doesn’t beat with working people”, the labour union group harshly criticises the proposed 2015 budget. “It is obvious that the government has no interest in working with the labour movement in creating a society based on equality,” the statement reads in part. “The labour movement is duty bound and will respond very clearly in
One of the Minister of the Interior’s assistants is currently on trial for his part in the leak of a memo about asylum seeker Tony Omos. Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, a former assistant to Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, was charged with breach of confidentiality and relieved of his position last August. He is now on trial in Reykjavík District Court, and the matter is already proving contentious. Vísir points out that even while no longer employed at the Ministry and currently standing trial, Gísli Freyr is still receiving a full salary. “This kind of comes out of nowhere,