To Join the European Union, Iceland Needs to Stop Whaling

What a thrill it was to follow the breaking news about the Japanese whaling fleet turning tail and running back to harbour – their kill count far lower than anyone had expected. We’ve covered our reaction here and here in more detail.

But beyond the immediate impact on Japan, and especially on the whales that survived, it will be interesting to watch what the impact is on one of the only three remaining whaling nations on earth – Iceland. Right now Iceland is negotiating its accession to the European Union. There are a lot of controversial topics in the negotiations including banking, fisheries, and the subject we’re watching – whaling.

You see, right now European Union waters are free from whaling which means that if Iceland wants to join they have to stop whaling. Simple, right? Except that in the murky world of international negotiations Iceland will try for derogations, exceptions and delays that they believe would allow them to continue whaling while becoming part of the EU! So we’re doing our best to brief the European Commission, and to work with members of the European Parliament, to ensure that the EU stands strong in negotiations and under no circumstances allows any Icelandic whaling in EU waters.

Ultimately this will be a decision for the people of Iceland. They will have to decide in a referendum if they want to join the EU on the basis of whatever deal is negotiated. We don’t know if they would be better off in or out of the EU but we are certain that both whales and Icelanders would be better off if they stopped whaling.

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