*NEWS*SHAME ON ICELAND !
*NEWS*SHAME ON ICELAND !
2006-10-18 at 12:23:00 pm #16764
Iceland begins commercial whaling
Iceland has announced it is to resume commercial hunting of whales.
Icelandic ships will take nine fin whales, an endangered species, and 30
minke whales each year.
In a statement, the fisheries ministry said the nation was dependent on
living marine resources, and would keep catches within sustainable limits.
Norway is the only other country to hunt commercially; most are bound by
a 20-year moratorium. Currently Iceland hunts minkes for “scientific
There will be a legal challenge Guiseppe Raaphorst
The scientific plan will conclude at the end of the 2007 season, the
The announcement has angered conservation groups and anti-whaling
nations, with some talking of a legal challenge.
The fisheries ministry said hunting could begin as early as next week,
and suggested the meat may be exported, which could prove a contentious
suggestion as the trade is heavily restricted under international law.
Iceland maintains local stocks are high enough to permit some hunting,
despite the endangered status of the fin.
“The total stock size of central and north Atlantic minke whales is
close to 70,000 animals, of which around 43,600 are in Icelandic coastal
waters,” said the government’s statement.
“The number of fin whales in the [area] is estimated at around
“The catches are clearly sustainable and therefore consistent with
the principle of sustainable development.”
Whales and fish
Rumours of a resumption have been circulating for some weeks, and a local
company Hvalur hf has, according to newspapers, been outfitting a processing
plant and staffing a whaling ship.
The resumption will be greeted with dismay by conservation groups,
alarmed by the passing of the first pro-hunting resolution in 20 years at this
year’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting.
“We are surprised and disappointed,” said Arni Finnsson from
the Iceland Nature Conservation Association (Inca).
THE LEGALITIES OF WHALING Objection - A country formally objects to the IWC
moratorium, declaring itself exempt Scientific
- A nation issues unilateral ‘scientific permits’; any IWC member can do
this Aboriginal - IWC grants
permits to indigenous groups for subsistence food
“There is no market for this meat in Iceland, there is no
possibility to export it to Japan; the government appears to have listened to
fishermen who are blaming whales for eating all the fish.
“This decision is giving the finger to the international
The Icelandic government had become frustrated with IWC negotiations on
the Revised Management Scheme (RMS), a protocol designed to re-introduce
commercial hunting under strict international catch limits, said Rune Frovik
from the High North Alliance, a group representing whalers, sealers and
fishermen in high latitude countries.
“When Iceland rejoined the IWC in 2002, they said they would not
resume commercial whaling before 2006; they also said they would not resume as
long as there was progress on the RMS.
“But at this year’s IWC meeting, the process stopped – there was no
Iceland gave up commercial hunts when the global moratorium was
introduced in 1986, and stopped all whaling in 1989.
Having left the IWC in 1992, it rejoined in 2002 stating a
“reservation” to the moratorium; and the circumstances surrounding
its rejoining may leave its decision to resume commercial hunting open to legal
Countries stating a reservation at the moratorium’s inception are allowed
to hunt commercially, though Norway is the only one that does.
“Anti-whaling nations at the time Iceland rejoined said the
rejoining was illegal because it hadn’t taken the reservation when it left the
IWC,” said Sue Lieberman, director of the global species programme at WWF
“The view of anti-whaling countries will, I predict, not change -
they believe that Iceland’s reservation is not legal – so we, and I believe
they, will argue that Iceland’s commercial whaling is in contravention of the
Dutch whaling commissioner Guiseppe Raaphorst confirmed that view.
“We never recognised [Iceland's] reservation,” he said.
“You cannot step down from a convention and then rejoin it under a
reservation – that is not possible under international law, and there will be a
Mr Raaphorst doubted that Iceland would be able to export the meat.
“They would not be allowed to export meat because it is prevented under
the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites),”
Cites regulations do not prevent Iceland from exporting whalemeat because
it has a formal exemption under the treaty, but virtually every country is
banned from importing it.
Iceland recently announced plans to export meat from its scientific
whaling programme to the Faroe Islands, whose government maintains it is exempt
from Cites regulations.
Icelandic and Norwegian whalers would like in the long
run to export to Japan, the world’s biggest market for whale meat.