WDCS Seeks US Trade Sanctions Against Iceland Over Whaling
Led by WDCS, nineteen conservation and animal welfare groups representing tens of millions of U.S. citizens are calling on the US Secretaries of Commerce and Interior to impose trade sanctions against Iceland for its escalating defiance of international agreements on commercial whaling.
A petition filed by WDCS on behalf of the ‘Whales Need US’ coalition and Species Survival Network, urges US authorities to bring into force U.S. conservation legislation known as the Pelly Amendment against Iceland, a move that could deal a death blow to Icelands out of control whaling industry.
The Pelly Amendment authorizes the US President to impose trade sanctions against another country if it fails to adhere to recognized conservation agreements; in Iceland’s case, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which bans commercial whaling, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which prohibits international commercial trade in whale products.
Iceland is guilty on both counts, having resumed commercial whaling in 2006 and dramatically increased its self-allocated quotas in 2009 to include 150 fin whales (an endangered species) annually. Iceland’s export of whale products have also sharply increased; in 2010, Iceland exported more than 800 tonnes of whale meat, blubber and oil, worth more than US$11 million, to Japan, Norway and the Faroe Islands and made illegal shipments of whale products to Latvia and Belarus.
The petition filed by WDCS provides the US government with the evidence it needs to act urgently and decisively to impose significantly stronger measures against Iceland and its whaling industry.
The US certified Iceland under the Pelly Amendment in 2004 for its so-called ‘research whaling’, but President Bush declined to impose trade sanctions at that time. However, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at Iceland’s renegade whaling and trade, and WDCS applauds the US for recognizing that more must be done to stop this senseless killing.
Specific Icelandic companies have been identified as potential targets for trade sanctions in the petition, and these include major seafood industry players that are directly tied to Iceland’s whaling industry. At the center is Icelandic fin whaling company, Hvalur, Sue Fisher of WDCS explains.
“Iceland’s actions meet the conditions for Pelly sanctions, and we’ve provided the U.S. government with the information necessary to carry out sanctions by identifying the ‘Hvalur Group’, and its associated companies, including HB Grandi, Iceland’s biggest fishing company.
“The petition exposes Hvalur Group’s links to Iceland’s whaling industry through shareholdings, board memberships and investments. It also provides a description of companies’ activities, their support of and ties to whaling, and details the commodities they are known to export to the United States.”
“Now is the time for the US to take robust measures against Iceland for its continued defiance of international law,” said Taryn Kiekow, staff attorney for the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council. “Iceland’s commercial whaling policy is considered archaic and cruel by the rest of the world and we ask the US to impose trade sanctions against it.”
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