26 Nations condemn whale hunt with demarche

Feature story - 1 November, 2006
Today, 26 nations delivered a formal diplomatic protest (called a "demarche") to the Icelandic government. The protest was led by the UK and signed by nations from around the world including the US, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Finland and Sweden.

An endangered Fin Whale, harpooned yesterday is brought to the harbor of Hvalfjörour, Iceland. The Fin whale is the first kill by Iceland and marks the resumption to commercial whaling for the country.

The demarche condemns the decision to resume commercial whaling, andthe unilateral way it was carried out,saying:

"Similarly, Iceland has set its quota usingcriteria that have not been presented to or reviewed and approved bythe International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) Scientific Committee.

Itdeeply concerns us that the Icelandic Government awards itself a quotathat has not been approved according to the applicable internationalprovisions, before any possible effects on whale populations have beenproperly assessed and peer reviewed by those bodies recognised ascompetent to manage whale resources."

The demarchealso brings up the fact that fin whales are classified as 'Endangered'on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and that the trade in finwhales is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade inEndangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 

Iceland has started a "review" of theCITES listing, but its government is apparently not willing to evenwait for their own scientists to weigh in before it starts stock pilingfin whale meat.

Signthe Icelandic Pledge now to help endwhaling.

Full text ofthe demarche:

JOINT DEMARCHE BY ARGENTINA,AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, BRAZIL, CHILE,  THE CZECHREPUBLIC, THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION, FINLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY, IRELAND,ISRAEL, ITALY, LUXEMBOURG, MEXICO, MONACO, THE NETHERLANDS, NEWZEALAND, PERU, PORTUGAL, THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC, SPAIN, SWEDEN, THE UNITEDKINGDOM, and THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

We, theGovernments of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile,The Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy,Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru,Portugal, The Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, The United Kingdom andThe United States of America, together with The European Commission areextremely disappointed that the Icelandic Government has decided toresume commercial whaling in Icelandic waters, in spite of theinternationally agreed moratorium.

Furthermore, weare very concerned that Iceland is considering the taking of nine finwhales, which have been classified as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red Listof Threatened Species, and are listed under CITES Appendix I, togetherwith thirty common minke whales. We do not agree with this proposedaction, adding as it does to the current catches of common minke whalesunder the research plan, which Iceland has been implementing since2003.

At the 22nd Animals Committee meeting of CITES- the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of WildFauna and Flora - which took place in Peru, only last July, Iceland'sproposed inclusion of the central stock of North Atlantic fin whales inthe periodic review was agreed. Nevertheless, the Icelandic Ministry ofFisheries has now set its own catch limits, without awaiting theoutcome of this review.

Similarly, Iceland has setits quota using criteria that have not been presented to or reviewedand approved by the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) ScientificCommittee. It deeply concerns us that the Icelandic Government awardsitself a quota that has not been approved according to the applicableinternational provisions, before any possible effects on whalepopulations have been properly assessed and peer reviewed by thosebodies recognised as competent to manage whaleresources.

We would wish to point to the significanteconomic and social benefits which accrue to Iceland arising from itsgrowing whale-watching industry and express the view that the decisionto commence commercial whaling could seriously undermine thosebenefits.  We are of the opinion that the decision to commencecommercial whaling sends a wrong signal with regard to Iceland'sgrowing whale watching industry.

We call uponIceland to respect the moratorium and halt its commercial whalingoperations. We believe that commercial whaling quotas determined andprosecuted in the absence of any agreed management system underminesthe proper functioning of the IWC.

We repeat ourcountries' opposition to this operation and urge the Government ofIceland to reconsider its position and reverse this unnecessarydecision, and to abandon its current operations. We remind Iceland that19 countries registered a formal objection with the United StatesGovernment (as the depository country for the instrument of adherenceto the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling) toIceland's Reservation on commercial whaling when they rejoined the IWCin 2002.

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