The owner of Iceland’s last remaining whaling company decried a hunting season lost to the government’s temporary ban, which expired last week.
(Bloomberg) — The owner of Iceland’s last remaining whaling company decried a hunting season lost to the government’s temporary ban, which expired last week.
Hvalur hf, the only company holding a valid whaling license in Iceland, had to put its plans on hold at a day’s notice in June, when Svandis Svavarsdottir, minister of food, fisheries and agriculture, instituted a temporary ban on the practice. The ban, based on veterinary officials’ conclusions that the killing of the animals took longer than allowed by animal welfare laws, was allowed to lapse on Thursday.
“The season is lost because the best time has passed — we won’t continue after September,” said Kristjan Loftsson, Hvalur’s owner, in an interview by phone. “This is an execution by this woman, it’s like being on death row,” he said, referring to the minister.
Read More: Iceland Resumes Whaling as Temporary Animal-Welfare Ban Runs Out
Iceland is one of just three countries in the world, along with Norway and Japan, to have allowed commercial whaling in recent years, though some indigenous communities in other countries hunt the creatures for subsistence. About half of Icelanders are against whaling, according to a poll in May by research company Maskina.
Hvalur’s two vessels were still docked in the harbor in Reykjavik waiting for favorable weather to set sail, when Anahita Babaei and another activist chained themselves to the masts on Monday.
“I am in the mast of Hvalur 9 where I will be staying for as long as I can to stop the ships from going out to sea,” said Babaei, who is also a documentary film maker, as she hunkered down in the basket of the ship’s mast in a video she posted on Instagram.
While authorities’ attempts to end the protest went down in vain, Loftsson said in an interview that he was confident that the police would resolve the issue.
“The weather is very bad so we won’t go out till the weather has eased, perhaps tomorrow or the day after,” he said, adding he’s “very optimistic” his ships will also sail next year.
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