Another Win for Whales: Endangered Fin Whales get help from President Obama

by Phil Kline

September 16, 2011

Yesterday President Obama took a step in the right direction to meet his campaign promise to work to end commercial whaling.

The President imposed diplomatic sanctions on Iceland over their commercial Fin whale hunting as recommended in July by the Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

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Although we would have liked to see trade sanctions included in President Obama’s action the diplomatic sanctions he has now imposed will keep a spotlight from the US government on Iceland’s Fin whaling with the clear directive from the US government that it has to end.

Moving in the right direction is always a good thing and we applaud the President’s action. Below is an excerpt from the President’s letter to Congress detailing the action he took yesterday:

“In his letter of July 19, 2011, Secretary Locke expressed his concern for these actions, and I share these concerns. To ensure that this issue continues to receive the highest level of attention, I direct:

(1) relevant U.S. delegations attending meetings with Icelandic officials and senior Administration officials visiting Iceland to raise U.S. concerns regarding commercial whaling by Icelandic companies and seek ways to halt such action;

(2) Cabinet secretaries to evaluate the appropriateness of visits to Iceland depending on continuation of the current suspension of fin whaling;

(3) the Department of State to examine Arctic cooperation projects, and where appropriate, link U.S. cooperation to the Icelandic government changing its whaling policy and abiding by the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling;

(4) the Departments of Commerce and State to consult with other international actors on efforts to end Icelandic commercial whaling and have Iceland abide by the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling;

(5) the Department of State to inform the Government of Iceland that the United States will continue to monitor the activities of Icelandic companies that engage in commercial whaling; and

(6) relevant U.S. agencies to continue to examine other options for responding to continued whaling by Iceland.” President Barack Obama, September 15, 2011

You can read President Obama’s full letter to Congress at:

Phil Kline

By Phil Kline

Phil is a senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA. He is a recognized expert on oceans policy domestically and internationally, and has represented Greenpeace U.S. at International Whaling Commission (IWC) meetings and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meetings around the globe.

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