Amsterdam – Greenpeace is calling for states to enact trade sanctions against countries not following the CITES restrictions on the shipment of endangered whale meat between countries. Iceland is currently shipping to Japan 1,500 metric tons of the 147 fin whales they killed this year, flouting the CITES agreement. The meat is being transported on the St. Kitts & Nevis flagged vessel Azure Coast.

“There is something seriously wrong with a protection mechanism if countries can so easily ignore it with no repercussions. We urgently need the UN to agree a Global Oceans Treaty to ensure meaningful protection of our high seas and all marine life, including whales,” said Tom Allen, a Senior Oceans Campaigner with Greenpeace International.

The CITES agreement (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) restricts international trade in endangered species, like these fin whales.

Fin whales are second only in size to blue whales, can grow to over 25 metres in length, and have been an endangered species since their populations were decimated by commercial whaling. Iceland’s controversial hunting of fin whales, for export to Japan, has this year been criticised still further when they hunted and killed two apparent ‘hybrid’ fin/blue whales.

This import follows Japan’s whaling operations in the North Pacific being declared illegal by CITES in their recent meeting at the beginning of October this year, an almost unanimous decision that also recommended trade sanctions against Japan should they continue to break international law.

The legal protections offered by CITES are clearly insufficient as nations that trade in endangered species simply opt out, and face no consequences as a result. Since commercial whaling became internationally illegal, the main threats to whales come from other sources and sadly are on the increase, such as climate change, plastic pollution and overfishing. Marine life, including whales,  urgently need safe spaces to breed and thrive.

Greenpeace is campaigning for marine sanctuaries and ocean protection, and needs international collaboration to make them work. The process to establish an internationally agreed Oceans Treaty is underway at the United Nations, and if it is enforced and abided by it could deliver the kind of robust protection needed for the high seas and their inhabitants.



Greenpeace International Press Desk, [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)