US wants Iceland to stop commercial whaling

Photo: Ómar Óskarsson

Photo: Ómar Óskarsson Ómar Óskarsson

Iceland should seriously consider stopping all commercial whaling operations, says the US embassy in Reykjavik.

Icelandic whaling company Hvalur recently announced its decision to halt – temporarily – hunting of finback whales, blaming excessive bureaucracy in Japan, the main market for Icelandic whale products (see story below).

Iceland has the chance to be a leader

“The Embassy of the United States of America views this announcement […] as a positive development,” reads a statement sent to Icelandic daily Morgunblaðið .

“The United States supports the International Whaling Commission (IWC) ban on commercial whaling. Iceland now has the chance to show it is a leader in issues of marine conservation by opposing commercial whaling and trade in whale products,” the statement continues.

Robert Barber, US ambassador to Iceland.

Robert Barber, US ambassador to Iceland. Árni Sæberg

The statement from the embassy’s spokesperson also refers to the “economic, social and cultural benefits” of whale-watching as an alternative industry to whale-hunting.

“We hope that the Icelandic government will seriously consider putting an end to commercial whaling and return to its previous stance of recognising the 1986 IWC ban.”

Little appetite for change

A recent Icelandic government report concludes, however, that whaling causes “no significant short-term or long-term damage to Iceland’s interests” and that “there can be no doubt that whaling in Iceland is sustainable” .

Below is a video of a dead finback whale being landed in Iceland last summer and the protest action undertaken.

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