Today, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir will issue a new Regulation intended to improve the framework for the hunting of fin whales. The Regulation comes in response to the results of the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority’s 2022 control report on the hunting of fin whales, the opinion of the Animal Welfare Advisory Board and the report by a working group on the evaluation of ways to decrease the number of irregularities involved.
Taking into consideration the available information from the Food and Veterinary Authority and the Animal Welfare Advisory Board, the conclusion of the Ministry was that it was not possible to carry out fin whale hunting in full conformity with the Act on Whaling and the Act on Animal Welfare. In response to this, the decision was made to delay the planned start of the whaling season until September 1. This would give time to examine whether improvements could be made, but the opinion of the Advisory Board was that it was difficult to see how the hunting methods could be improved. Taking into consideration the interests of the holder of the whaling licence, the time frame for the delay was made as small as possible while still giving some leeway to seek ways to reduce irregularities during hunting.
A working group was established in July 2023, composed of experts from the Food and Veterinary Authority and the Directorate of Fisheries. The group’s task was to evaluate ways to reduce irregularities during hunting. The working group returned its report on August 28 and part of its opinion is that it is possible to improve the methods used for the hunting of large whales.
The opinion of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, with reference to the working group’s report, is that there is a basis for making changes to the hunting method that can lead to the reduction of irregularities during hunting, and therefore improve the animal welfare aspect.
A Regulation will be issued that will include detailed and stricter requirements for hunting equipment and hunting methods, as well as increased supervision. The conditions include coverage of training, educational measures, hunting equipment and hunting methods.
The Ministry wishes to note that the working group’s report points out that various questions are still unanswered as to the possible functionality and effects of electricity during the killing of whales, and therefore the Regulation does not include provisions on such equipment.
The aforesaid Regulation stipulates that the Food and Veterinary Authority and the Directorate of Fisheries shall work together to supervise whale hunting. The plan is for these bodies to submit a report to the Ministry at the end of the whaling season, summarising the main findings of the supervision of whale hunting in 2023.