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Iceland to Hunt Fin Whales Again--Call on the Obama Administration to Impose Sanctions

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Posted May 9, 2013

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Endangered fin whales may once again face Iceland’s harpoons. According to media reports, Iceland will resume fin whale hunting next month after a two year hiatus – and is set to kill up to 184 endangered fin whales. Fin whales are the world’s second largest animal and are listed as an endangered species.


NRDC joins other animal welfare and conservation groups calling on the Obama Administration to impose targeted economic sanctions against Iceland.

Iceland has flouted international laws since 2003 by killing 496 minke whales and 280 endangered fin whales and exporting over 2,800 metric tons of whale products to Japan in violation of the moratorium on commercial whaling. In 2009, Iceland dramatically increased its self-allocated fin whale quota to 150 animals a year – more than three times the catch limit that the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee (the world’s foremost experts on whales) considers sustainable for the species’ survival.

NRDC and eighteen other NGOs responded to Iceland’s renegade whaling in December 2010 by filing a petition under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Protective Act urging the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior to certify and enact sanctions against Iceland.

Former Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke responded to our petition in July 2011 by certifying Iceland for its continued slaughter of whales. In a letter to President Obama, he said that that “Iceland, by permitting its nationals to engage in commercial whaling and exporting endangered fin whale meat, is diminishing the effectiveness of the IWC conservation program.”

President Obama enacted diplomatic sanctions against Iceland in September 2011, finding that “Iceland's actions threaten the conservation status of an endangered species and undermine multilateral efforts to ensure greater worldwide protection for whales.”

But despite U.S. certification and diplomatic sanctions, Iceland is about to start fin whaling again.

Led by renowned actor and marine mammal activist Pierce Brosnan, NRDC urged President Obama back in 2011 to impose tough sanctions against Iceland.


Unfortunately, the President responded with diplomatic sanctions.  With Iceland’s resumption of fin whaling on the imminent horizon, it’s clear that diplomacy has failed. Now is the time for the President to respond with hard-hitting economic sanctions targeting Iceland’s whaling companies – and companies with corporate ties to those whaling companies. 

We have identified several Icelandic companies as potential targets for trade sanctions, including major seafood industry players that are directly tied to Iceland’s whaling industry.

We urge the Obama administration to impose targeted trade sanctions against those companies. Because it’s clear that Iceland is not going to stop slaughtering whales unless they’re compelled to do so.  


Photo credit: NOAA

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maria montgomeryMay 10 2013 01:47 PM

Urge the Obama administration to stop whale hunting for profit in Iceland.

Deorah MasseyMay 10 2013 03:08 PM

For the sake of a few whalers your country is willing to sacrifice it's reputation, and it's massive tourist industry. Iceland this stain on your integrity will never go away until you stop whaling

john maitlandMay 10 2013 06:14 PM

stop killing the oceans

Henning MernaMay 12 2013 04:38 AM

Urge the Obama administration to stop sticking their noses into other countries business. The US doesn't rule the world and everyone in Europe thinks they are fat and stupid anyway. I don't see many countries putting sanctions on the US for the numerous atrocities they've commited around the world in the past.

someoneMay 18 2013 08:27 PM

Finally, they have stopped trying to say Minkey is an endangered specie, but still go at it for the Fin whale. how long do we have to wait untill the International press finds out the size of the stock in the North Atlantic and how fast the specie is spawning VS the quota?
How will the "endangered " status look then, and will CITES listed species ever be belivable again?
Fin is apparently endangered in some part of Southern sphere, not Nothern but listed in CITES GLOBALLY!

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