Iceland's Fishing Minister Expands Whale Sanctuary On Last Day In Office - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s Fishing Minister Expands Whale Sanctuary On Last Day In Office

Published December 1, 2017

Photo by
Art Bicnick

The last act of the outgoing Minister of Fisheries was to expand the no-hunting zone for whales in the bay around Reykjavík. An MP for the Independence Party was livid over the decision, whose son runs a whale-hunting company, apparently forgetting that an outgoing Minister of Fisheries for his own party once expanded the whaling quota as his last act in office.

Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, as her last act in office, announced on Facebook that she had signed an order that expands the no-hunting zone for whales in Faxaflói bay, which surrounds the Reykjavík area. As many visitors to Iceland are aware, whale watching is extremely popular in Reykjavík. However, whale hunting is also conducted in the bay, albeit further from shore.

Jón Gunnarsson, an MP for the Independence Party and an out-going Minister of Transport and Local Government, told Fréttablaðið that the decision was made “under cover of night”, and criticised the fact that representatives of whale hunting companies were not asked for their input.

Jón admits that his son owns a whale hunting company, but added, “That has nothing to do with this. I started fighting for whale hunting before he even finished primary school. My opinion has not changed.”

The criticism that the decision was made suddenly, on her last day, and without input from those affected is especially intriguing coming from a member of the Independence Party. In 2009, on his last day in office then out-going Minister of Fisheries Einar K. Guðfinnsson of the Independence Party took it upon himself to allot a major whaling quota for the next five years. No objections were raised from members of the Independence Party over Einar’s exit move at that time.

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