EU leads diplomatic protest against Iceland's whaling

| 16th September 2014
Fin whale landed at Miòsandur whaling station Hvalfjördur, Iceland, in August 2014. Photo: EIA.
Fin whale landed at Miòsandur whaling station Hvalfjördur, Iceland, in August 2014. Photo: EIA.
As the IWC meeting begins today in Slovenia, the EU, its 28 member states and the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Mexico and Monaco, have expressed their opposition to Iceland's commercial whaling in a powerful diplomatic broadside.
We once again call upon Iceland to respect the IWC's global moratorium and end its commercial whaling and international trade in whale products.

In a joint statement or 'demarche' to Iceland's government - made on the eve of the International Whaling Commission's 2014 meeting in Slovenia - the 35 nations declared:

"We ... wish to express our strong opposition to Iceland's continuing and increased commercial harvest of whales, particularly fin whales, and to its ongoing international trade in whale products."

"We are especially troubled by Iceland's harvest of 125 fin whales in 2009, 148 fin whales in 2010, and 134 fin whales in 2013, all of which are a significant increase from the seven fin whales harvested over the 20 years prior to 2009. The current 5 year quota of 770 fin whales is considered unsustainable under IWC stock assessment methods."

The EU's Ambassador to Iceland, Matthias Brinkmann, along with the diplomatic representatives of the United States, France, Germany and the UK delivered the demarche to the Icelandic government yesterday.

Clare Perry of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), commented: "This démarche highlights Iceland's flagrant disregard for international efforts to conserve whales. We congratulate those countries that have initiated this protest and urge them and other countries to take further diplomatic efforts to bring an end to Iceland's commercial whale slaughter."

This trade in endangered species must stop!

The demarche also slams Iceland's trade in whale meat, expecially products from endangered species.

"Fin whales and minke whales are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I (with the exception of the population of minke whales of West Greenland which is included in Appendix II) and we remain extremely concerned with Iceland's reservation, entered in 2000, for these and other cetacean species.

"We urge Iceland to withdraw this reservation and safeguard these species from international commercial trade. We are not convinced that Iceland's harvest and subsequent trade of fin whales meets any domestic market demand or need; it also undermines effective international cetacean conservation efforts."

Susan Millward, executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute urged Iceland "to respect the call made in this diplomatic protest and to bring an end to both its whale hunts and trade in whale products, to stem the damage already done to both its reputation and economy."

The EU Ambassador also pointed out that public opinion in the countries that are Iceland's main trading partners is very much against the practise of whaling:

"This is evidenced by the public pressure put on companies around the world to boycott Icelandic goods, not to mention the pressure that voters and various organisations put on their politicians, encouraging them to send Iceland an increasingly stronger message."

Respect the IWC

The demarche also denounces Iceland's disregard of the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling: "We encourage the Government of Iceland to adhere to the internationally agreed moratorium on commercial whaling and to re-examine the decision to continue to issue fin and minke whale quotas.

"We recognise the conservation efforts made by Iceland under other international agreements and hope the Icelandic Government will be able to extend this stance to fully support global efforts for cetacean conservation.

It adds that the authorisations to kill fin and minke whales "have been put in place without presentation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and without regard for the long term interests of cetacean conservation ...

"Furthermore, we would like to draw attention to the considerable economic, social and educational benefits of Iceland's growing whale watching industry as a possible alternative to commercial whaling.

"We hope the Icelandic Government will seriously consider the benefits of eliminating commercial whaling and return to its previous position of acceptance of the moratorium on commercial whaling that was put in place by the International Whaling Commission in 1986.

Chris Butler-Stroud, Chief Executive Officer of Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), commented: "We urge Iceland to abandon this unnecessary slaughter and instead support its profitable and growing whale watch industry which brings considerable economic and social benefits to the country."


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