The news is in. Iceland's whaling season – which began June 16 and was briefly interrupted due to bad weather in mid-September – has just ended. The final tally? Icelandic whalers slaughtered a total of 134 endangered fin whales, despite the international ban on commercial whaling and the domestic diplomatic sanctions imposed on Iceland as a result of its rogue whaling. Icelandic whalers almost reached the nation's self-allocated quota of whales, which officials determined by designating a catch limit of 154 individuals and tacking on 20% of last year's unused catch. Whalers also killed 38 minke whales this past hunting season.
Obviously, diplomatic sanctions have proved ineffective at halting Iceland's rogue whaling. There is growing support at home and abroad for targeted economic sanctions to compel Iceland to stop killing endangered whales. In May, NRDC joined other activist groups to stage a colorful anti-whaling rally in Portland, Maine coinciding with Icelandic President Grimsson's most recent visit to the US. Campaigners in the UK are also demanding that their nation's fish suppliers halt imports from Icelandic fishing whaling company HB Grandi, which has corporate ties to Hvular, Iceland's whaling company.
Furthermore, there is virtually no market for Icelandic whale meat. In July, a shipment of 130 tons of whale meat left harbor bound for Japan, but the freight ships refused to export the whale meat and took the cargo back to Iceland before it could reach its destination. Both shipping companies involved publically vowed never to ship whale products in the future. The Netherlands – situated on most shipping routes between Iceland and Asia – recently enforced a ban on the transit of whale meat through its ports, making its export even more difficult. And, as I've blogged before, since demand for whale meat is low, some manufacturing companies are contemplating turning these endangered whales into luxury dog treats.
It's time for President Obama to impose tough economic sanctions on Icelandic whaling companies and companies with corporate ties to those whaling companies. Click here to sign our petition and help end Iceland's whale slaughter.
Written with Marine Mammals Program Assistant Lauren Packard
Photo Credit: Pete Duley for NOAA