It is impossible to stop the planned whaling this summer despite the country’s Food Authority’s conclusion that the hunt does not comply with the objectives of Icelandic animal welfare legislation, Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir said on Monday.
The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (Matvælastofnun, MAST) issued a damning statement on Tuesday, presenting the results of monitoring last year’s whaling season.
Last year, 148 whales were hunted down in Icelandic waters. In a quarter of the cases, the whale had to be shot more than once, two whales had to be shot four times and it took almost two hours to kill one. In one case, a whale with a shuttle in its back escaped after a five-hour chase.
For the MAST, this is not in line with the objectives of the Icelandic Animal Welfare Act, according to which hunting should always be done in such a way that it causes the least pain to animals and that their killing takes the shortest possible time.
Despite this, the agency believes that no law has been broken.
“The Agency believes that the best-known methods were used during the hunts given the conditions under which these hunts are conducted, and therefore the provisions on hunting in the Animal Welfare Act have not been violated,” the statement reads.
Svavarsdóttir from the Left-Green Movement declared however that the results of the report are striking.
“The basis of the animal welfare legislation is that animals enjoy independent respect. It is also clear that no animal should have to suffer during euthanasia. At least minutes and even hours. It’s very striking to see that,” Svandís declared.
She added that the report calls for a reassessment of whaling in the country.
“It needs to be well justified if this industry is to have a future.”, she said, adding that the data gathered by the MAST indicate that the whaling industry “has more to do with the past than the future”.
In Iceland, it is the Minister of Food that issues licences for whaling. The current licence expires at the end of the year and the minister declared that it is unclear whether it will be renewed for next year in light of the report. However, it is not possible to stop the planned whaling this summer.
“A legal basis is needed to revoke the licence. As far as I am informed in my ministry, that legal basis does not exist.” Svandís regretted.
(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)
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