Iceland suspends fin whale hunting over animal rights concerns

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Iceland’s government on Tuesday said it had suspended the hunting of fin whales until Aug. 31, after a report by Iceland’s Food and Veterinary Authority concluded that killing the whales took longer than allowed by the country’s law on animal welfare.

The hunting of fin whales, which can reach lengths of over 20 metres, was resumed in Iceland in 2006 following a 1986 moratorium. Iceland, along with Norway and Japan, is one of a handful of countries that still allow commercial whale hunting.

“I have decided to suspend all whaling operations,” Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Svandis Svavarsdottir, said in a statement.

“This activity cannot continue in the future if the authorities and the license holders cannot ensure the fulfilment of the welfare requirements,” she said.

Svavarsdottir said she would seek the opinions of experts and whale hunting licence holders to explore further limitations on whaling in the future, the government said.

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Alex Richardson and Conor Humphries)