“Whaling does not significantly harm Iceland”

The carcass of a fin whale tied to an Icelandic ...

The carcass of a fin whale tied to an Icelandic whaling ship. Photo: Reuters

Icelandic whaling has not caused significant damage to international relations or tourism, according to a new government report.

“Thus far, there has been no significant short-term or long-term damage to Iceland’s interests,” reads the Foreign Ministry report, drafted upon the request of a group of Icelandic MPs.

The report does, however, point to certain “challenges” experienced by Icelandic fish exporters and their overseas partners as a result of Iceland’s hunting of whales.

The general conclusion is that the effect of Icelandic whaling on political relations with other countries is “limited” and there are no indications that tourism is harmed – as indicated by the ever-growing numbers visiting the country.

Whaling “sustainable” 

The report underlines the traditional Icelandic stance that whaling in Iceland is legal under national law and that the country’s international trade in whale products is in line with its international commitments.

“Furthermore, there can be no doubt that whaling in Iceland is sustainable and that the scientific basis for such is strong,” the government document reads.

Reference is, however, made to cyber-attacks on Iceland stemming from international opposition to Icelandic whaling and to the “disappointing” response of neighbouring nations.

Iceland’s Government Offices have suffered four serious cyber-attacks in recent months by ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous because of its whale-hunting operations and such action is likely to continue, warns the report.

“Disappointing” reactions

“The response of many neighbouring countries and close allies has been very disappointing. The US government, for instance, has repeatedly over many years announced its intention to take action against Icelandic whaling, on the grounds that it undermines efforts to protect whale populations,” the report reads.

“There is a tendency among politicians both in the US and Europe […] to even encourage illegal action against Icelandic stakeholders, such as bans on transhipment in certain European ports.”

The report calmly concludes that these reactions to Icelandic whaling operation have been largely similar over many years and that there is no evident reason why this should change.

The full Foreign Ministry report (in Icelandic) can be found here.

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