NOTE: This is a guest post from Karen Vale at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
Last month, WSPA asked Care2 members to urge President Obama to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions against Iceland due to its whaling activities. Today, WSPA is happy to announce that his decision is finally in — the president will use diplomatic measures to impede Iceland’s commercial whaling program.
While the president did not impose economic sanctions on products imported into the U.S. as we would have liked, WSPA is pleased that various diplomatic measures will be put into place. This shows that the U.S. is taking steps in the right direction to hold Iceland accountable for its cruel and unnecessary whaling activities.
Iceland’s Defiant Whaling Activities
Iceland has repeatedly ignored international conservation agreements, including the International Whaling Commission (IWC)’s ban on whaling, and drastically increased its whaling activities and international trade in whale products in recent years. Hundreds of minke whales and endangered fin whales have been killed since Iceland resumed whaling in 2006 — nearly 300 animals in 2009-2010 alone!
According to a law called the Pelly Amendment, the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Interior can formally “certify” a county if it is “diminishing the effectiveness” of conservation treaties, such as the IWC’s ban on whaling. Once a country is certified, the president then has the authority to impose sanctions.
WSPA and Advocates Demand Action Against Iceland
In response to a petition filed by WSPA and 18 other groups in 2010, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) reviewed Iceland’s whaling activities and determined them to be undermining global conservation agreements. The DOC formally announced Iceland’s certification on July 19, 2011, giving President Obama two months to decide whether the U.S. would take further action, including diplomatic and economic sanctions.
After tens of thousands of supporters from around the world made it clear that it was time for the U.S. to show strong leadership and protect our plant’s great whales, on Sept. 15, the president announced that the U.S. would use diplomatic measures against Iceland, including:
- The U.S. will raise concerns about whaling at meetings with Icelandic officials;
- U.S. officials will evaluate the appropriateness of visits to Iceland;
- Arctic cooperation projects will be reviewed and the U.S.’s involvement will be linked to whether Iceland abides by the IWC’s moratorium on whaling;
- The U.S. will monitor activities of Icelandic companies that engage in commercial whaling; and
- Under a reporting requirement, the Departments of State and Commerce must keep the situation under review and report back to the President.
WSPA strongly believes that the slaughter of whales is inhumane, unnecessary and unsustainable — and it needs to end. For more on their work to protect marine mammals, please visit http://www.wspa-usa.org/wspaswork/marinemammals/.