Wildlife and nature conservation organization Jarðarvinir has sued whaling company Hvalur hf. for the violation of whaling laws, Vísir reports. Ragnar Aðalsteinsson, Jarðarvinir’s attorney, says he believes Hvalur hf. broke the law and violated their whaling licence by killing a hybrid whale last June. “The hunting licence is limited to fin whales. There is no exception from that in the hunting licence or anywhere else. We believe it’s worthwhile to try to determine whether it is punishable to hunt a whale though it is a hybrid, if it cannot be considered a fin whale,” Ragnar stated.
Hvalur hf. was the subject of controversy in June when it was believed they had killed a blue whale. Genetic analysis later determined the animal in question was a rare fin/blue whale hybrid. The company’s licence only applies to hunting fin whales. Though hunting of blue whales is illegal in Iceland, there is no legislation specifically protecting hybrid whales.
In the lawsuit, Jarðarvinir also asserts that Hvalur hf. has not complied with regulations governing their operations between June 2010 and May of this year. Fréttablaðið reported earlier this week that the company has never followed strict rules on whale meat processing which came into effect in 2010 but were relaxed by Minister of Fisheries Kristján Þór Júlíusson earlier this year. The regulations required the company to slaughter whales indoors and as soon as they are brought onto land, a process it did not carry out.
Ragnar also questions whether the minister of fisheries was permitted to change regulations on whale meat processing at the beginning of the summer, as such regulations are usually governed by an international regulatory framework. “It’s a question of whether there is permission anywhere to grant an exemption from those regulations by a government decision.”