US announces diplomatic action over Icelandic whale hunts
Following calls by WDC for the US government to take action against Icelandic whaling company, Hvalur hf, President Obama has announced that additional diplomatic sanctions should now be imposed on Iceland for undermining the International Whaling Commission’s global ban on commercial whaling.
Despite the ban, which came into force in 1986, Iceland has continued to hunt whales and resumed commercial whale hunts in 2006. Icelandʼs 2010 commercial whale hunt was the largest of its kind in decades, with 148 endangered fin whales and 60 minke whales killed. The collapse of the Japanese market for fin whale meat demonstrated the true commercial nature of Iceland’s industrial whaling as no market led to no Icelandic hunt taking place the following year (2011). Latest figures indicate that only 3% of Icelandic people regularly eat whale meat, with most of the meat pushed to unsuspecting tourists.
Iceland has ignored all diplomatic criticism of its whale hunts by the IWC as well as several strongly worded official diplomatic protests from a wide range of countries between 2003 and 2011. This latest decision by the US government regarding potential diplomatic action was prompted by the provocative resumption of Icelandic fin whale hunting in 2013, when a total of 134 fin whales were killed. Any future cooperation between the US and Iceland could now hinge upon Iceland agreeing to change its whaling policy and respect the international ban on commercial whaling.
WDC has called for trade sanctions against Icelandic companies linked to Iceland’s Hvalur (meaning ‘whale’) Group, and HB Grandi, whose chairman, Kristjan Loftsson, is also the CEO of Hvalur. HB Grandi is Iceland’s largest fishing and seafood export company, controlling more than 10 percent of the country’s fishing quotas.
Whale hunting has recently been called into question from within Iceland with eight Icelandic MPs proposing resolution asking the Icelandic Finance and Economic Minister to assess and review whaling in Icelandic waters in light of the overall economic, business and diplomatic interests of the country, specifically its fishing and tourism industries.
“Iceland is an incredible country with some incredible people”, says WDC anti whaling campaigner, Vanessa Williams-Grey. “WDC has long supported the growth of responsible whale watching in Iceland an industry that generates many times more revenue for the Icelandic economy than whaling does for one man – Kristjan Loftsson. “