FILE PHOTO: Whaling ships are seen docked at a wharf in Rejkjavik January 29, 2009. The sign on the ship reads, "Whale". REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Whaling ships are seen docked at a wharf in Rejkjavik January 29, 2009. The sign on the ship reads, "Whale". REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

Iceland Suspends Whaling Ship Over Animal Welfare Violation

Reuters
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September 15, 2023
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COPENHAGEN, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Iceland has suspended the operations of one of its two whaling vessels for taking too long to kill a fin whale, the authorities and the boat’s owner said on Friday.

The government two weeks ago ended a two-month pause in whaling that had been imposed after a report concluded that killing whales took longer than Iceland’s animal welfare law allowed.

Although it imposed stricter regulations and surveillance in order to limit the whales’ suffering, there were nevertheless protests from animal welfare campaigners and Hollywood stars including Leonardo DiCaprio.

An inspection carried out on Sept. 7 on the Hvalur 8 ship found that a harpooned fin whale had not died until it was harpooned again half an hour later, rather than being hit again immediately as new rules require, the Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) said on Thursday.

Kristján Loftsson, CEO of Iceland’s only whaling company, Hvalur hf., said the delay had been caused by a malfunction of the harpoon’s winch.

The vessel cannot resume hunting until the problem is solved, MAST said.

Whaling season in Iceland lasts from mid-June to late September and almost all the whale meat is sold to Japan.

Last year, 148 fin whales were caught around Iceland, on average dying within 11.5 minutes of being harpooned, although one took two hours to die, MAST said in its report released in May.

Last week, two protesters chained themselves to the masts of the Hvalur 8 and its sister ship, keeping them in harbor for 33 hours, Icelandic media reported.

(Reporting by Johannes Birkebaek; editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Kevin Liffey)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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