From Iceland — Whaling Discussed in Parliament

Whaling Discussed in Parliament

Published February 5, 2009

The subject of whale hunting was hotly contested in parliament
yesterday, with the former Minister of Fisheries – whose last act was
to allow commercial whale hunting – accusing current Minister of
Finance, Agriculture and Fisheries Steingrímur J. Sigfússon of “ministerial tyrrany”.
Sigfússon has made it clear – as have both his party and the other party in the coalition, the Social Democrats – that he is against commercial whaling. In fact, the issue was disputed during the previous coalition with the Conservatives and Social Democrats, when the previous Minister for the Environment denounced the idea of commercial whaling as financial folly that bore no real economic benefits.
Einar K. Guðfinnsson, the previous Minister of Fisheries, said yesterday in parliament: “Why should we ban this profession?” adding that to go contrary to the “will of the people” (see previously) would be nothing short of “ministerial tyrrany.”
Sigfússon responded: “We shall respect the fact that the Icelandic tourist industry is the fastest growing industry in this country for the past decade. We will take our entire economic health into consideration instead of letting our emotions get the best of us.”
The tourist industry in Iceland, in particular whale watching companies, have been among those strongest opposed to whale hunting. A recent poll, however, shows nearly two-thirds of Icelanders supporting commercial whaling.

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