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Iceland kept exporting fin whale products, which US considers a violation of international agreements. (Photo: Greenpeace/YouTube,Granter/FIS)

Iceland ignores US trade sanction threats over whaling

  (UNITED STATES, 9/9/2011)

Environmental and welfare groups this week revealed that Iceland's commercial whaling operation exported a further 133 tonnes of whale products from endangered fin whales in July despite the pending threat of US trade sanctions for violating conservation agreements that protect the endangered fin whales.

The 133 tonnes of whale meat worth an estimated USD 1.2 million was exported to Japan in July 2011 even as the US administration announced that Iceland was defying the global ban on commercial whaling.

"There is a line in the sand that Iceland has just crossed," said Allan Thornton, President of the Environmental Investigation Agency. "The Icelandic killing of fin whales is illegal and its illegal export of whale meat will lead to further illegal killing of fin whales. Only US sanctions against fish imports by the seafood company linked to Iceland's whaling company will stop this environmental crime."

Since 2006, 280 endangered fin whales, the second largest animal on the planet, have been killed by the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur, despite the international ban on commercial whaling. 

On 19 July, Department of Commerce (DOC) Secretary Gary Locke certified that Iceland was undermining the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) by permitting commercial whaling and international trade in endangered fin whale meat. The Commerce Secretary had previously warned the Icelandic Fisheries and Agricultural Ministry in November 2010 that US law required a response to Iceland's commercial whale killing.



President Obama now has until 17 September to report to Congress on any action he decides to take, including possible sanctions against Icelandic products exported to the US. Iceland has exported almost 1,400 tonnes of fin whale meat and blubber to Japan, worth around USD 18 million, since it began killing fin whales.

As well as the shipments of whale meat and blubber to Japan, Iceland has exported whale products including whale oil to Norway, the Faroes Islands and Latvia, despite a ban on such international trade in products of great whale species by the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Susan Millward, Executive Director of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) said: "This recent export demonstrates the urgent need for President Obama to immediately impose economic measures including trade sanctions against Iceland."

Sue Fisher, Policy Director for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said that "Not only is Iceland abusing two international conservation agreements, it is setting fin whale quotas that are three times higher than sustainable levels according to the Scientific Committee of the IWC, the world's foremost authority on whale science. US citizens overwhelmingly oppose commercial whaling, and nothing less than economic sanctions will fulfill President Obama's promise to strengthen the commercial ban on whale hunting.”

Related article:

-
US may inflict punishment over whaling policy

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