One man in Iceland takes his country off the invite list
Iceland is feeling the chilling effects of President Obama’s diplomatic sanctions.
Earlier this year, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel certified Iceland under the Pelly Amendment to certify to President Obama that Iceland was engaging in the killing and international trading in parts of fin whales, thereby weakening the international ban on the trade of endangered species.
In response, President Obama released letters to all federal agencies, Cabinet secretaries, and Members of Congress, directing each addressee to strongly reconsider any future visits to Iceland or interactions with members of Iceland’s government, due to their continued practice of commercial fin whaling, as well as the trade in endangered fin whale parts and products.
This week Washington, D.C. played host to Secretary of State John Kerry’s Our Ocean conference, a summit bringing together leaders and practitioners from around the world to discuss ocean acidification, fisheries, and ocean pollution, and ways to combat these and other threats to the ocean. Although Iceland is a major fisheries nation they were excluded from this event, all due to the actions of one man, the lone Icelandic fin whaler Kristjan Loftsson.
This strong message from the U.S. administration against Icelandic fin whaling was apparently not clear enough; as the Our Ocean conference concluded, Loftsson returned to his whale flensing station to unload his first fin whale of the season.
All is not lost, because it appears the pressure from the US is starting to take hold. Loftsson did not boast a celebratory event today, as he has done in years past, and he has not responded to requests for comment from local Icelandic news media. In lieu of the media presence he’s always welcomed in the past, as the first dead fin whale was offloaded Loftsson had only his crew, and some hard working IFAW supporters standing outside in the cold rain, holding up signs asking “What is the point of Icelandic whaling?”, to witness his shameful act.
Now that Loftsson has resumed fin whaling in face of the U.S.’s Pelly Certification, we here at IFAW are waiting to see what the Obama Administration does next to encourage Icelanders to stand up to the callused actions of one man. As our government continues to pressure Iceland to end commercial whaling, we here at IFAW, with your incredible support, will do the same.
Congratulations to Secretary Kerry and the Obama Administration for standing up for whales!
For more information about IFAW efforts to protect whales around the world, visit our campaign page.