Whale hunting season has begun, and will continue for the next three months.
RÚV reports that the whaling ships Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9 have set off today from Reykjavík Harbour for the whaling station in Hvalfjörður, north of the capital. There, the ships will be outfitted with harpoons and other equipment before heading out to sea to begin whaling.
Last year, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture established a quota of 154 fin whales, a species that the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals has categorised as in danger of extinction. Eleven minke whales – which are not endangered – have been hunted so far this year in Faxaflói Bay, out of a quota of 229.
The news of the season opening comes in the wake of a recent snub from the US State Department towards Iceland, by not inviting Icelandic representatives to an international ocean sustainability conference, Our Ocean.
“I believe that continuing focus on Icelandic whaling activities is needed to encourage Iceland to halt commercial whaling and support international conservation efforts,” US President Barack Obama said last April. “Just as the United States made the transition from a commercial whaling nation to a whale watching nation, we must enhance our engagement with Iceland to facilitate this change.”