Iceland has decided to suspend this year’s whale hunting over animal welfare concerns, in a move that environmentalists hope will be the end of the controversial practice for good.
“I have taken the decision to suspend whaling” until 31 August, food minister Svandis Svavarsdottir said in a statement, after a recent government-commissioned report concluded the hunt does not comply with Iceland’s Animal Welfare Act.
The report which provided a video showing a whale being hunted for five hours concluded the killing of whales during the hunt took too long.
Animal rights groups and environmentalists hailed the decision, with the Humane Society International calling it “a major milestone in compassionate whale conservation”.
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.
Iceland has depended heavily on fishing and whaling for centuries but a survey published in early June showed that 51 per cent of Icelanders were opposed to the hunt and 29 per cent in favour.
Meanwhile, in the past two decades, its tourism industry, including whale-watching tours, has also blossomed.