Sunday 12 May 2013

Iceland poised to recommence taking fin whales

Disappointing news has emerged with reports that the Icelandic whaling company, Hvalur H/F, may be about to recommence taking fin whales in June this year.

Fin whales, listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), are estimated to have declined by more than 70% globally over the last three generations.

In 2009, Iceland permitted its whalers to kill 125 fin whales under self-issued commercial whaling quotas, incorrectly claiming it had the right to exploit an “objection” loophole in the International Whaling Commission moratorium on commercial whaling. In 2010 they took another 148.

To make matters worse, much of the fin whale meat has been sold to Japan, in violation of international agreements banning the trade of endangered species.

In 2011, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke recommended that President Barack Obama invoke the provisions of the Pelly Amendment to impose economic or trade sanctions against Iceland for actions that “diminish the effectiveness of an international fishery conservation program”.

President Obama fell short of imposing tough sanctions and instead restricted the U.S. intervention to strongly worded diplomatic statements. [See news item 12.11.2011]

Now, the Icelandic media reports that Hvalur has announced a 2013 hunt for at least 150 fins, with the possibility of an additional 30 to make up for not having taken any in 2012.

In the wake of these developments, there is mounting pressure on the U.S. President to impose the economic and trade sanctions provided for under the Pelly Amendment if Iceland goes ahead with the 2013 fin whale hunt.

What you can do

Send a letter or email to President Obama urging him to impose trade and economic sanctions if Iceland takes fin whales this season:

  President Barack Obama
  The White House
  1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
  Washington, DC 20500

Email link:

Send a letter or email to the Australian Prime Minister urging her to contact the Government of Iceland expressing Australia's opposition to the fin whale hunt; and to contact the U.S. President in support of sanctions:

  The Hon Julia Gillard MP
  PO Box 6022
  House of Representatives
  Parliament House
  Canberra ACT 2600

Email link:

[Headquartered in Switzerland, the IUCN is an international partnership of more than 1,000 government and non-government organisations and is recognised globally as the authority on the conservation status of species.]


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