From Iceland — Hvalur Files Claim Against Icelandic State Over Temporary Whaling Ban

Hvalur Files Claim Against Icelandic State Over Temporary Whaling Ban

Published January 29, 2024

Photo by
Borkur Sigurbjornsson/Wikimedia Commons

Hvalur hf. filed a claim against the state for “massive income loss,” reports RÚV. The whaling company asserts that the Icelandic government should pay the company’s employees wages for the period when the ban on whaling was in effect.

In its claim, Hvalur hf. argues that it suffered significant financial losses due to Minister of Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir’s decision to temporarily ban whaling last year.

The claim was sent to the National Ombudsman after the ombudsman concluded that the Minister of Fisheries’ decision to temporarily halt whaling last year did not comply with the law.

Svandís’s ban took effect on June 20, 2023, and lasted until September 1, 2023.

Concerning the company’s claim for compensation, the introduction emphasises that Hvalur hf. sought the Parliament Ombudsman’s opinion and complained about the preparation and issuance of the regulation that prevented whaling from starting in the summer of 2023.

Referring to the Ombudsman’s opinion, it is mentioned that the Minister of Fisheries lacked a sufficiently clear legal basis for the issuance of the regulation, making its issuance unjustifiable.

Hvalur hf. believes it is reasonable that the company is entitled to compensation from the Icelandic state for the financial loss it has suffered due to this issue. However, it is noted that it is possible to deduct the expenses incurred during the time when whaling could not take place, mainly in the form of salary costs and other variable expenses.

The filed claim also highlights that the Akranes Trade Union expressed that Hvalur’s employees were entitled to wage compensation for the duration of the whaling ban. Additionally, the Association of Ship Captains expressed the same for its union members.

It is emphasised that Hvalur hf. believes it would be most practical if the Icelandic state compensated the employees of the company and those who have a stake in accordance with the income loss. The compensation amount that the state might have to pay to Hvalur hf. would be determined through negotiations with the state.

The claim also states that it is also possible to hire a third party expert who could assess the company’s losses in the form of an external evaluation. However, it would not be binding, neither for Hvalur hf. nor for the Icelandic state.

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