Despite the global ban on commercial whaling, Iceland has dramatically increased its slaughter of endangered fin and minke whales in recent years. The nation has killed more than 280 endangered fin whales and 200 minke whales since 2006.
Efforts to end this illegal whaling have reached a pivotal moment, and actor and marine mammal activist Pierce Brosnan is helping lead NRDC’s online campaign to galvanize support for firm international action.
NRDC and other groups filed a petition last December to stop Iceland’s renegade whaling. In response, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke recently certified to President Obama that Iceland is undermining the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission by hunting whales in defiance of the commission's moratorium on commercial whaling. That certification started the clock ticking on a 60-day period during which President Obama must decide whether to impose sanctions against Iceland under conservation legislation known as the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Protective Act.
Sanctions would make the critical difference in this fight. In 2004, the United States decried Iceland’s rogue whaling practices, but did not take the official step of imposing sanctions. Since then, the slaughter has only increased.
“We can be sure that Iceland will not end the abhorrent practice of whaling until it is forced to do so,” Brosnan wrote in a message to NRDC members and activists (read his recent post about it here).
Brosnan and NRDC have a long history of joining forces to save the whales.
Last year, NRDC partnered with Brosnan to sponsor television and newspaper ads opposing a terrible proposal in the International Whaling Commission that would have legitimized commercial whaling for the first time in over two decades. Brosnan appealed to President Obama, asking him to uphold his campaign pledge to protect the whales. Our media efforts generated over 100,000 letters of protest from NRDC activists alone – millions worldwide – to President Obama. Thanks to the international uproar, the United States withdrew its support for the proposal and it was not passed at the IWC.
Brosnan also worked tirelessly with NRDC to save Laguna San Ignacio in Baja California from plans by Mitsubishi and Mexico to build the world’s largest industrial salt works around the lagoon – a World Heritage Site, a Bioshere Reserve, a whale sanctuary, and the last undisturbed gray whale nursery. We mobilized our members, some of the world’s greatest scientists, and an international coalition to oppose the plan and generated over 1 million petitions of protest from citizens around the world. After the Mexican government decided to cancel plans for the giant salt works in 2000, NRDC has continued to work with groups in Mexico and local communities to secure permanent protection for the lagoon.
After blocking commercial whaling and protecting a critical whaling nursery grounds, we are prepared to end Iceland’s rogue slaughter of endangered marine mammals.
Brosnan and NRDC are now calling on President Obama to impose trade sanctions against Icelandic seafood companies with direct ties to the whaling industry.
“It’s important that President Obama feel a groundswell of public support if he is to take this next historic step,” said Brosnan.
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