The Humane Society of the United States and its international arm, Humane Society International, on October 20th asked the U.S. government to impose trade sanctions against Iceland if it resumes commercial whale hunts as the Icelandic Fisheries Ministry announced it would earlier this week. The hunt is expected to begin immediately.
In a letter sent to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, The HSUS/HSI pressed the government to certify Iceland under the provisions of the Pelly Amendment if it resumes commercial whale hunts. Under the Pelly Amendment, the President of the United States is permitted to impose trade sanctions against a country, prohibiting the importation of any fish or wildlife products from that country, when its nationals are diminishing the effectiveness of an international program to protect marine species. A moratorium has been in place on commercial whale hunting since 1986.
The ministry said it intends to start hunting endangered fin whales in addition to minke whales, two long-lived species that are slow to reproduce.
In June 2004, Iceland was certified under the Pelly Amendment for its scientific whaling program, and this certification remains active. After controversially rejoining the IWC with a reservation to the moratorium, Iceland immediately launched its research whaling program. The program has since killed 160 minke whales, including 60 in 2006.
"The change in status of Iceland's whaling from scientific whaling to commercial whaling and the addition of endangered fin whales warrants a new certification and the consideration of trade sanctions," wrote Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "It is our sincerest hope that when Iceland is certified, your office will recommend that trade measures be applied." Although Iceland was certified for 'scientific' whaling, trade sanctions were never applied.
In addition to undermining the IWC, Iceland disregards the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and has stated it would export one to two tons of whale meat to the Faroe Islands. When Norway exported whale meat to the Faroes in 2003, the CITES Secretariat deemed the trade illegal.
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