The US Government has strongly condemned Iceland’s escalating slaughter of endangered fin whales and attempts to export the meat.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) welcomed the US Department of Commerce decision to publicly issue a statement criticising Iceland's commercial whaling activities.
US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's statement said: "The United States strongly opposes Iceland's defiance of the commercial whaling ban. We urge Iceland to cease international trade of whale meat and work with the international community to safeguard whale species. It is troubling that Iceland continues to pursue commercial whaling outside the boundaries of the IWC (International Whaling Commission), without member oversight or analysis by the Commission's Scientific Committee."
Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: "IFAW welcomes this signal from the US Government that it, like many other countries, does not accept Iceland’s cruel and needless slaughter of endangered fin whales.
"Serious action is needed to stop this killing. We hope that Iceland takes this warning seriously and ceases its whaling now. Otherwise, we encourage the US to consider all possible measures, including focused trade sanctions targeting companies involved in whaling."
This season alone, Iceland’s whalers harpooned more than 200 whales. This included 148 endangered fin whales as well as 60 minke whales. Iceland has only a limited domestic market for minke whale meat and traditionally Icelanders have not eaten fin whales, so these are killed purely with a view to securing foreign markets, which Iceland has so far struggled to achieve. Therefore, most of the meat from whales killed in Iceland remains unused in frozen storage.
Secretary Locke indicated that the US is currently looking at possible domestic responses to Iceland's increased killing of whales outside the control of the IWC.
Monica Medina, US Commissioner to the IWC and Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, said: "I am deeply disappointed in Iceland's actions. Iceland is disregarding the global moratorium on commercial whaling, as well as the global ban on trade in whale meat. Iceland's increasing harvest of whales, followed by the export of approximately 600 tonnes of fin whale meat, sends a clear message that Iceland is not interested in cooperative international conservation of whales."