|November 30, 2017
A major step towards whale conservation in Icelandic waters was taken yesterday when the outgoing fisheries minister said two of the main habitats of many whale species in Icelandic waters were off-limits to whaling. The two whale sanctuaries announced yesterday cover the main hunting grounds for minke whales in Icelandic waters as well as the waters where most whale sightings take place. (See map below)
According to the new executive order, all whaling will be prohibited in the eastern part of Faxaflói Bay, the bay between the Reykjanes and Snæfellsnes peninsulas in western Iceland, as well as Eyjafjörður Fjord and Skjálfandi Bay in northern Iceland. Most Icelandic whale watching companies operate in these waters.
The new coalition government led by the leftist Greens could overturn the settlement. However, as the left-wing Greens have backed the expansion of whale sanctuaries around Iceland, it is unlikely that Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson, chairman of the centrist Progress Party and to predominantly rural, quarrels with the Prime Minister over the issue.