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UU will pursue all options if whaling is not banned immediately

On May 8th, MAST, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, released a report about the hunting of fin whales in 2022 by Hvalur hf., along with disturbing videos of the hunting. The report and videos demonstrate that this practice violates the objectives of the Icelandic Animal Welfare Act, international agreements on whaling, and potentially even international human rights laws.

MAST reported that for 41% of the whales hunted, it took over 11 minutes for them to die. Some of the whales hunted were shot with up to four harpoons. One whale suffered for a full hour before dying, another for two hours, and a third whale was chased with a harpoon in its back for five hours before the hunt was abandoned. This is entirely out of line with the Icelandic animal Welfare Act which states that the killing of wild animals should be as swift as possible and result in the least amount of pain possible.

The report further reveals that two-thirds of the whales killed were female, and at least 11 were pregnant. One whale killed was lactating, meaning a calf was likely left motherless to die. Hrönn Ólína Jörundsdóttir, Director General of MAST, called the findings “unacceptable”.

Fin whales are the second largest animal on the planet. They are listed as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act and vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Fin whales are vital to the health of the ocean’s ecosystems. Their feces provides essential nutrients for primary producers in the water column, including phytoplankton which produce at least half of the oxygen in the atmosphere. At the end of their life, whale carcasses sink to the bottom, providing nutrients like carbon and nitrogen to bottom-dwelling organisms, contributing to the carbon cycle and carbon sequestration. Their continued existence is therefore crucial to maintain healthy marine ecosystems.

We are living at a critical moment in history where the unprecedented loss of biodiversity and the rapid changes to our climate pose an existential threat to thousands, if not millions of species, including ourselves. Now is the time to make proactive decisions and take any precautionary measures to prevent further harm, including banning whaling once and for all. The furthered risk of the extinction of whales would provide a significant threat to the myriad species that rely on nutrients cycled up and down ocean layers by whales.

In June, whaling is likely to start again, and up to 209 fin whales could be hunted. The MAST report is clear evidence that hunting whales can not be done humanely and is not in line with Icelandic or international laws. Therefore, we are calling on the Icelandic government, and particularly Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, to withdraw the permit for the hunting immediately to prevent any more whales being killed. If our demand is not met by mid June, when the whaling is set to begin again, we will pursue all legal options to sue the Icelandic government and Hvalur hf. for any whales killed.

Nature’s right to exist, our rights as young people, and the rights of future generations to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment must be protected.

Ungir umhverfissinnar

Nordic Youth Biodiversity Network

*See sources here.

For further information, please contact:

Finnur Ricart Andrason, chairperson of Ungir umhverfissinnar +31 634336825

Oliwer Schultz, coordinator of Nordic Youth Biodiversity Network +46 738016550


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