Conservation and animal welfare groups including WDCS have expressed concern over news that Iceland’s endangered fin whale hunt will resume this summer.
The Icelandic newspaper Skessuhorn reported yesterday that it had “reliable evidence” that fin whaling will begin again, after having been shut down last summer due to the impacts of the earthquake in Japan. Although Kristjan Loftsson, director of Hvalur would not confirm the matter, the paper claimed it had evidence that whaling will begin in June and is likely to last for three months.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is urging European and U.S. leaders to take strong diplomatic actions to end Iceland’s continued and expanding whaling.
“Iceland’s commercial slaughter of minke whales – like the fin whale hunts – is cruel and unnecessary,” states Vanessa Williams-Grey of WDCS. “ Much of the minke whale meat on sale in Iceland is consumed by tourists, including from the UK, US and Germany who adopt a ‘when in Rome’ attitude on holiday, despite the fact that few Icelanders consume minke whale meat on a regular basis. Until last autumn, Iceland allowed minke whale meat to be sold in Keflavik airport’s departure area even though most countries prohibit its import and could prosecute those importing whale meat.”
Iceland has engaged in commercial whaling for years in defiance of the international moratorium agreed to by the International Whaling Commission in 1982. Hvalur has an annual quota of 150-170 endangered fin whales. Iceland’s annual minke whale hunt is also expected to resume soon with a quota of 216 animals.
Clare Perry of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) said “Iceland has exported almost 2,000 tonnes of whale meat to Japan in recent years. The Icelandic whaling company Hvalur is deliberately growing an export market for an endangered species, which is protected by two international agreements to which Iceland is signatory. We are calling on the EU and US to take urgent steps to end this rogue whaling.”
In response to Iceland’s whaling, in September 2011 President Obama imposed diplomatic sanctions on Iceland under the Pelly Amendment for undermining the effectiveness of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and, specifically, the commercial whaling moratorium. In its analysis of Iceland’s whaling, the U.S. Department of Commerce made clear that any resumption in fin whaling could result in more significant sanctions, including trade restrictions, imposed against Iceland. The European Union is also presently engaged in accession discussions with Iceland.
“President Obama has already laid the foundation for a strong US response to this news with the Pelly certification in September 2011” stated D.J. Schubert of AWI. “Any suggestion of a resumption of fin whaling should trigger an immediate response by US authorities to warn Iceland of the implications, domestically and internationally, of killing fin whales.”
AWI, EIA, and WDCS have shared the Skessuhorn article and their concerns with relevant US and EU authorities and have requested that they take immediate steps to caution Iceland about resuming fin whaling.