On 31st August 2023, Iceland officials stated that commercial hunting of fin whales can resume in the country after the temporary ban they imposed in June when a report made by official experts evaluated ways to reduce “irregularities” during whale hunting.

In May, the Iceland’s Food and Veterinary Authority estimated that 14 fin whales were shot more than once, and two were shot four times before they died. After the issue was studied by experts, they concluded that “it is possible to improve the methods used for the hunting of large whales.” Therefore, whaling of fin whales has been authorised again in Iceland, although under stricter requirements on hunting methods and increased supervision by the Food and Veterinary Authority and the Directorate of Fisheries.

Animal rights organisations are appalled by the decision, and two activists of the Captain Paul Watson Foundation managed to delay the departure of the two whaling ships, the Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9, by climbing their masts and chaining themselves into the crow’s nests where whale spotters would have been during hunting. Anahita Babaei and Elissa Biou held out through a cold night but surrendered to the authorities after 33 hours. Earlier that morning, Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK activist Nic Clifford was arrested while attempting to take food and water to Babaei and Biou. The organisation claims that the actions of these two activists have saved between four and eight whales. 

In an interview for Vegan FTA, Captain Paul Watson said that his new organisation will prioritise campaigning against Iceland as whalers there are allowed to kill the endangered fin whales. 

The International Whaling Commission imposed a ban on commercial whaling in the 1980s. Iceland left the IWC in 1992 but returned in 2002 with a reservation to the ban. It allowed commercial whaling to resume in 2006.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.