Fears fishing interests could be hit by Iceland whale shock – Fishupdate.com

Fears fishing interests could be hit by Iceland whale shock Published:  29 January, 2009

ICELAND’S outgoing fisheries and Agriculture Minister Einar Gudfinnsson has shocked conservations and some fishing interests by announcing a dramatic increase in the whale hunting quota.. There are fears that the move could lead to a backlash against Iceland fish products if, as expected, international environmental groups call for a boycott. Iceland is hoping the fishing industry will be a major plank for helping to rebuild the country’s shattered economy.

Mr Gudfinnsson, who is resigning from the Icelandic Government with the rest of his cabinet, has raised the quota allowing fishermen to catch an extra 250 whales a year , including 150 fin whales and 100 minke whales. The new arrangements are in place for a five year period. Last year, whalers were authorized to catch just nine fin whales and 40 minke whales.

Two weeks ago Mr Gudfinnsson increased the cod catch quota by 30,000 tonnes, although this is less controversial.The Minister said both the whale and cod moves were in line with scientific recommendations laid down by Marine Research Institute.

Thórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir of the rival Social Democrats said: “I find this act by the outgoing minister of fisheries, in the last few moments of his job as minister, indicate irresponsibility. As soon as this decision is reported abroad it will have a significant impact on the image of Iceland and discussions about the country.”Considering the circumstances and Iceland’s position, among other things in terms of interacting with our neighbouring states in Europe, the amendment to this regulation is questionable.”