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Iceland's commercial whale hunting hampers IWC's work. (Photo: YouTube/finnurth)

US may inflict punishment over whaling policy

  (ICELAND, 7/22/2011)

US Department of Commerce (DOC) Secretary Gary Locke has affirmed that Iceland’s commercial whale hunting in the face of the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) global ban is “unacceptable” and hampering the group’s work. The Obama Administration may take action against the country through trade sanctions and other measures if Iceland does not halt its whale hunting practices.

"Iceland's harvest of whales and export of fin whale meat threaten an endangered species and undermine worldwide efforts to protect whales,” Locke stated. "It's critical that the government of Iceland take immediate action to comply with the moratorium."

The Obama Administration will refer to the Pelly Amendment -- a conservation legislation that allows the US President to act against nations or nationals thought to violate international conventions. President Obama has 60 days to decide whether to impose trade sanctions and other economic measures against Iceland.

Officials said Iceland’s hunting of finbacks and the export of whale products to Japan and other countries is a cause of concern for the US Government. Fin whales are endangered across the globe; DOC said Iceland killed 273 of them in 2009 and 2010.

Thus far this season Iceland has not caught any finbacks but it has killed 38 minke whales. Icelandic whaling fishery Hvalur will decide next month whether the finback is to be hunted this season, Iceland Review reports.



In 2004, Iceland resumed whaling for scientific purposes. US Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans then issued a formal statement referring to the Pelly Amendment and noting that said actions undermine the IWC’s current conservation policy, but then-President George Bush Jr did not take action.

Iceland commenced commercial whaling two years later, and its fin whale catch has since soared to about 150 per year; most of the meat is exported to Japan.

Iceland's Fisheries Minister Jon Bjarnason said whale hunting is sustainable.

"The fin whale stock in the North Atlantic is abundant and in very good shape, and is in no way connected to the stock in the Southern Ocean which is in a poor state," he insisted.

Environmental groups have called on the US Government to take action against Iceland.

“President Obama has a unique opportunity to demonstrate US leadership on whaling,” Kate O’Connell of Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society wrote in a statement.

Locke said the official declaration will relate to some of the actions the US government could impose, such as a full ban on the import of seafood products against Icelandic companies affiliated with the whaling industry, plus diplomatic actions and the withdrawal from collaborations between the two countries.

Related article:

-
Iceland begins accession negotiations with EU 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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