Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Svandís Svavarsdóttir said there is no legal basis for revoking the fishing permit of Hvalur hf. in the wake of a damning report on the practices of the company — the only one engaging in whaling in Iceland — not adhering to laws on animal welfare.
Svandís pointed to the fact that the law on whaling has long since become obsolete and her focus will be on collecting more data related to reforming the law.
Data collection will be three-pronged, including the report from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) released May 8, 2023, an evaluation of the impact of whaling on marine ecosystems, and a report on the economic impact of whaling, RÚV reports.
Discussing the MAST report
Svandís appeared at the Alþingi business committee open meeting on whaling. The meeting was convened to discuss the MAST report, which the minister called “striking.”
The report found that, of the 148 whales killed in the 2022 season, 73% were female, 11 were pregnant and one was lactating. Surveillance footage from aboard Hvalur’s whaling vessels captured video footage of 58 deaths. Though Hvalur has long maintained that the whales die immediately after being harpooned, the report found that the median time it took for the whales to die was 11.5 minutes, with some struggling for life for more than two hours. A total of 36 whales (of those filmed) needed to be shot more than once, with five shot three times and four shot five times. One whale was chased for more than five hours with a harpoon in its back (it eventually got away, likely fatally injured).
Discussion of Iceland’s whaling practices aren’t confined to our borders. Actor Jason Momoa shared an Instagram post from @last_whaling_station drawing attention to the MAST report. Momoa’s post has garnered more than 41,000 likes.
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