Iceland resumes fin whale hunting, but killing needs to be faster

By Reuters - September 1, 2023
FILE PHOTO: A man stands near a finwhale being towed to a port in Reykjavik June 18, 2013. REUTERS/Sigtryggur Johannsson/File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) – Iceland’s government said on Thursday it will resume hunting fin whales after a two-month halt, but with new guidelines aimed at killing them as quickly as possible to reduce suffering.

Iceland resumed hunting fin whales, which can reach lengths of over 20 metres (65 feet), in 2006 after a 20-year pause.

The International Whaling Commission – a global body that oversees whale conservation – imposed a moratorium in 1986 after some species came close to extinction. Although several are still endangered or even on the brink of extinction, Iceland, along with Norway and Japan, have resumed commercial whaling.

Reykjavík suspended commercial whaling in June after a government-commissioned report said that it took too long for whales to die after they were harpooned, sometimes hours, in breach of its law on animal welfare.

The hunting will be resumed after a government working group concluded that it was possible to improve the hunting methods.

“A Regulation will be issued that will include detailed and stricter requirements for hunting equipment and hunting methods, as well as increased supervision,” the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries said in a statement.

FILE PHOTO: Whaling ships are seen docked at a wharf in Reikjavik January 29, 2009. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins (ICELAND)/File Photo

Iceland’s public broadcaster said whale hunters would be required to complete a course in whale biology, pain perception and stress.

They will be also provided with detailed instructions of how to harpoon the animals to make sure that they die quickly.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis Editing by Sandra Maler)