Iceland urged to abandon slaughter as 26 countries condemn its whaling

Friday, 2 October, 2009
Iceland is being urged to abandon its commercial whaling as 26 countries issued a statement condemning the cruel and unnecessary killing of more than 200 endangered fin whales and minke whales so far this season.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), called on the Icelandic government to heed the international criticism and support responsible whale watching as a humane and profitable alternative to the cruelty of whaling.

The joint demarche, a formal diplomatic protest signed by the UK, the US and Australia among others, states that the 26 governments were “deeply disappointed” with the former Icelandic government’s decision to authorise commercial whaling. Earlier this year, the outgoing Fisheries and Agriculture Minister granted commercial whaling quotas of up to 150 fin whales and 100 minke whales a year for five years.

The current government has kept these kill quotas in place for just one year, but the catch allocation has been increased further to 200 fin whales and 200 minke whales for 2009, despite a limited domestic market for minke whale meat and no market for fin whale meat. Since June, Iceland’s whalers have harpooned 125 fins and 79 minke whales.

Shortly ahead of the demarche being issued, IFAW and other animal welfare groups staged a protest this morning outside the Icelandic Embassy in London.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “The eyes of the world are on Iceland as we urge them to stop this cruel and unnecessary slaughter of whales. Citizens of the UK and many other countries around the world view the commercial killing of whales with disgust.

“Iceland’s persistence in continuing with its inhumane and unsustainable whaling puts it out of step with the rest of Europe. Whales shot with explosive harpoons can take more than half an hour to die, and Iceland is also killing an endangered species for which no market has been found.

“The obvious lack of market for the meat means these whales are being killed just to be stored in a freezer for years to come.”

Opinion polling and independent economic research in Iceland has revealed little appetite for whale meat, while responsible whale watching, by contrast, is financially lucrative and one of the country’s most popular tourist activities, generating almost £5m a year for coastal communities.

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