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(Reykjavik, London, Hamburg – 8 July 2022) — The Icelandic Minister of Fisheries & Agriculture, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, just announced new animal welfare rules and surveillance requirements for the killing of whales in Iceland. These new regulations will be similar to those in place for the slaughtering and hunting other animals in the country. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) will be responsible for implementing these rules, which will come into force this summer after a short consultation period.
“Studies have shown that it can take up to 25 minutes for a whale to die after being shot with an explosive harpoon,” comments Sharon Livermore, IFAW’s Director of Marine Conservation. “Whales are suffering prolonged and painful deaths out at sea—suffering that would be completely unacceptable with farm animals killed for their meat—so these new animal welfare regulations for whaling are a certainly a step in the right direction.”
The changes to the regulation of whaling are based on Article 21 of Iceland’s Animal Welfare Act, which until now excluded marine mammals. Article 21 stipulates that animals must be killed swiftly and painlessly, and that causing them to experience unnecessary pain or fear shall be avoided. In addition to these stipulations, whalers will now also be obliged to document their hunts by filming them and sharing the unedited footage with MAST. Trained veterinarians will be required on board whaling vessels to observe and document the hunts from next year onwards.
Livermore adds: “This is a significant development and it is also encouraging to see that the new regulations will go above and beyond those in place for whaling in Norway. Clearly Icelandic leaders are taking a good hard look at how whales are being killed in their waters, and showing concern for these sentient beings. Such scrutiny gives us hope that whaling is on the way out of Iceland for good.”
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Notes to Editors:
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) — IFAW is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org