Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir has signed a regulation enlarging the whale sanctuary in Faxaflói bay, Vísir reports. Faxaflói bay is located in West Iceland, between the Reykjanes and Snæfellsnes peninsulas and is a popular spot for whale watching. The decision returns the borders of the sanctuary to their 2013 location.
The sanctuary was expanded in 2013 by then-minister Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, then reduced by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson when he took over the ministry.
“I have been of the opinion that the whale sanctuary must be expanded in Faxaflói. We aren’t going to ban whaling but the whale sanctuary will be enlarged here, among other reasons with respect to tourism and many other factors,” said Þorgerður, referring to conflicts between whale watching and whaling in the area.
The regulation has received attention for being put forth in the last days of Þorgerður’s ministry, with a new government expected to take power within the week. Þorgerður points to the fact that ministers have made such decisions before near the end of their term and that the decision is reversible if opponents are keen to do so.
She mentions that The Reform Party, of which she is chairperson, is working on a parliamentary proposal on re-evaluating Iceland’s whaling policy, which consists of mapping interests related to whaling. It also calls for a special debate about whaling when parliament convenes again.