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Majestic fin whales

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Icelandic government official questions whale hunts

A leading member of the Icelandic government has questioned the extent of the country’s whale hunting in a surprising interview with a local news service.

In the first acknowledgement of its kind from an Icelandic government official for many years, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Iceland’s Foreign Minister has indicated that Iceland should consider reducing its whaling operations in light of international criticism.

The comments were made just days after it was revealed that Icelandic whaling ships had killed four more endangered fin whales, taking the number killed this season to 36. Iceland ignores the current international ban on commercial whaling and sets its own quotas (number of whales it will kill). This season, authorisation has been given to hunt 154 fin and 229 minke whales.

Previously, the US government has imposed diplomatic sanctions on Iceland over its whaling, and threatened commercial sanctions if the hunts continue.

WDC’s whaling programme lead, Astrid Fuchs said: ‘Whilst WDC welcomes the acknowledgment by the Minister that Icelandic whaling is becoming more and more of a problem, he should not mistake the nature of that problem: The international community is not asking for a reduction of the Icelandic whaling quota, it is asking for an end to Iceland’s commercial whaling.’

Fin whale slaughter in iceland