Saturday 30 July 2011

US poised to act on Iceland's whaling

United States Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has made a formal recommendation to President Barack Obama that the U.S. should use the provisions of the Pelly Amendment to take action against Iceland over its continued harvest of fin whales.

Pelly legislation enables the President to authorise sanctions and other actions against any nation that conducts “fishing operations in a manner or under circumstances which diminish the effectiveness of an international fishery conservation program”. The whaling industry is considered a “fishery”.

Iceland claims that it is exempt from the International Whaling Commission’s global moratorium on commercial whaling because it has lodged an “objection” within the IWC decision. That claim in itself is spurious because of Iceland’s exit from and return to the IWC some years ago. [see 'Iceland' in the menu on the left.]

Regardless of that technicality, the reason for the Pelly certification is Iceland’s insistence on hunting fin whales - declared an endangered whale species - and trading the meat internationally, selling it to a number of countries including Japan.

Iceland has taken no fin whales as yet this whaling season, only minke whales.  But the reason for this temporary deferral is the devastation caused to Japan’s whale meat processing plants by the March tsunami. [see News Item 15.05.11.] Icelandic whalers still hold permits, issued by their government, to kill up to 150 fins this year.

In a media statement Secretary Locke called Iceland’s actions “unacceptable”.

“It’s critical that the Government of Iceland take immediate action to comply with the moratorium,” he said.

Secretary Locke has recommended to the U.S. President that senior administration officials visit Iceland and take up the issue personally and that the U.S. should consider “options for responding to continued whaling by Iceland” which would include trade sanctions.

President Obama has up to 60 days to consider Secretary Locke’s declaration.

Support from Australians

Australia and the U.S. are anti-whaling allies in the IWC. Australian citizens can support Secretary Locke’s initiative in a number of ways.

A letter or email of support to Secretary Locke:
   Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
   U.S. Department of Commerce
   1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
   Washington, DC 20230

A letter or email to President Obama urging him to support the declaration and take prompt action:
   President Barack Obama
   The White House
   1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
   Washington, DC 20500
Email link:

A letter or email to the Australian Prime Minister urging her to contact the U.S. President in support of the declaration:
   The Hon Julia Gillard MP
   PO Box 6022
   House of Representatives
   Parliament House
   Canberra ACT 2600
Email link: .


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