Two months after the US Secretary of Commerce recommended that the US take strong action against Icelandic whaling, President Obama issued a strongly worded statement that fires a warning shot across Iceland’s bows if its fin whaling does not stop for good.Although the President did not go as far as WDCS and its follow NGOs hoped by imposing trade sanctions on Iceland, he directed his administration to review its diplomatic relationship with Iceland, potentially including cancelling meetings with Icelandic officials and withdrawing funding for joint projects in the Arctic.
Iceland did not undertake any fin whaling this summer, blaming reduced markets in Japan following the tsunami in March, but it has given no indication that its aggressive policy on fin whaling has changed. If Iceland resumes fin whaling, President Obama has sought an immediate report from his officials, suggesting that the door remains open for punitive economic measures against Iceland by the US in the future.
In late 2010, WDCS co-authored an 80+ page petition to the US government that set out how Iceland is undermining the effectiveness of both the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) by its ongoing whaling and international trade in whaling products in defiance of international bans.
The petition, which identified whaling-related commercial targets for sanctions in Iceland, was supported by nineteen other US conservation and animal welfare groups. Together, in recent weeks, we have collectively rallied hundreds of thousands of US citizens to send emails, faxes and letters to the President calling for sanctions.
Although we are disappointed that Iceland is not facing trade sanctions for its fin and minke whaling, we believe our months of effort paid off; the petition and your messages of support reached the President’s desk and he took us seriously. WDCS remains optimistic that strong action by the US will help bring an end to Icelandic whaling and trade.We expect to receive a response from the Department of Interior next month to the part of the petition related to Iceland’s trade in whale products.
Thursday, September 15. 2011