Iceland to export fin whales

Feature story - November 10, 2006
An Icelandic whaling company has said it will ignore an international ban on the trade of endangered species, and export its catch to Japan. But it remains unclear if in Japan the demand even exists. The meat will first need to be tested for toxins to see if it's safe for human consumption.

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

Icelandic whalers have caught seven fin and one minke since resuming commercial whaling.  

The Icelandic government claims it's hunt is legal because it says it filed an "objection" to the moratorium on commercial whaling when it rejoined the International Whaling Commission in 2002.  And Iceland says it can legally export fin whale meat because it registered a "reservation" to the ban on trade in fin whales when it joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.  (Iceland holds more whale reservations than the other four nations with reservations on whales.)

Realities of international law not on whales' side

Fact is, many international laws work by consensus.  A consensus Iceland's government is making it perfectly clear it is willing to ignore.  Japan's government apparently feels much the same way - allowing whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The reality is that these whales do not belong to any nation.  They range far wide outside of Iceland's territorial waters.  Yet, the pro-whaling Icelandic government feels it can make unilateral decisions about hunting them.  


Meanwhile, in Iceland

The government's decision to resume commercial whaling has been criticised and called arrogant, even by many Icelanders.

Furthermore, Arni Finnsson, chair of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association (which opposes the hunt), has publicly wondered why commercial whaling was resumed before questions about what to do with the whales were answered.

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