Iceland urged to abandon whaling
The British, French and German governments also issued a message which strongly criticised the Marine Research Institute’s proposals for 39 minke whales to be taken this year.
IFAW condemned the recommendation as cruel, unnecessary and economically unsustainable and called on Iceland’s Ministry of Fisheries to abandon the practice. It is also concerned by proposals to take a further 100 whales next year.
Iceland resumed whaling two years ago on the grounds of scientific research.
IFAW marine campaigner Ellie Dickson said: "We strongly oppose the recommendation made by the Marine Research Institute and call on the Icelandic Government not to go whaling this year or in future years. The Ministry claims its research will help establish if whales are damaging fish stocks, but marine eco-systems are more complex than that and there is no evidence that culling whales will affect the number of fish. There is also no market for the meat."
A joint statement from the British, French and German governments emphasised their "strong opposition" and called on Iceland to abandon the whaling programme, which it describes as being of "questionable scientific value".
Since August 2003, 62 minke whales have been killed in Iceland's coastal waters.
Whale meat was on sale in some Icelandic supermarkets and restaurants days after the first whale was caught, but poor demand for whale meat in Iceland has led to huge stocks remaining in freezers.
IFAW encourages responsible whale watching around the world as an alternative to whaling and helped set up Iceland’s successful whale watch industry. This attracted around 82,000 tourists last year – boosting the economy by an estimated £9.5m.
But tour operators are concerned that whaling has been taking place in whale watch areas, despite assurances that this would not happen.