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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 15 September 2014

EU leads an international demarche against whaling by Iceland

The EU, its 28 Member States and the governments of the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Mexico and Monaco, today declared their opposition to the fact that the Icelandic government still permits commercial whaling, in particular the hunting of fin whales and the subsequent trading of fin whale products.

The EU's Ambassador to Iceland, Matthias Brinkmann, along with the diplomatic representatives of the United States, France, Germany and the UK delivered a demarche to this effect to the Icelandic government this morning. The Ambassador also pointed out that public opinion in the countries that are Iceland's main trading partners is very much against the practise of whaling.  This is evidenced by the public pressure put on companies around the world to boycott Icelandic goods, not to mention the pressure that voters and various organisations put on their politicians, encouraging them to send Iceland an increasingly stronger message.

The text of the demarche was as follows:

JOINT DEMARCHE BY THE EUROPEAN UNION, ITS MEMBER STATES AND THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, ISRAEL, MEXICO AND NEW ZEALAND.

We, the European Union and its Member States and the Government of the United States of America, Australia, Brazil, Israel and New Zealand, wish to express our strong opposition to Iceland's continuing and increased commercial harvest of whales, particularly fin whales, and to its ongoing international trade in whale products.

Iceland is well known for its responsible marine resource management practices; however, we are deeply disappointed with the Icelandic Government’s continued authorisation of the hunting of fin and minke whales. The authorisations have been put in place without presentation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and without regard for the long term interests of cetacean conservation. We are especially troubled by Iceland's harvest of 125 fin whales in 2009, 148 fin whales in 2010, and 134 fin whales in 2013, all of which are a significant increase from the seven fin whales harvested over the 20 years prior to 2009. The current 5 year quota of 770 fin whales is considered unsustainable under IWC stock assessment methods.

We encourage the Government of Iceland to adhere to the internationally agreed moratorium on commercial whaling and to re-examine the decision to continue to issue fin and minke whale quotas.

We also object to Iceland's international trade in whale products. Fin whales and minke whales are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I (with the exception of the population of minke whales of West Greenland which is included in Appendix II) and we remain extremely concerned with Iceland’s reservation, entered in 2000, for these and other cetacean species. We urge Iceland to withdraw this reservation and safeguard these species from international commercial trade. We are not convinced that Iceland's harvest and subsequent trade of fin whales meets any domestic market demand or need; it also undermines effective international cetacean conservation efforts

We recognise the conservation efforts made by Iceland under other international agreements and hope the Icelandic Government will be able to extend this stance to fully support global efforts for cetacean conservation.  Furthermore, we would like to draw attention to the considerable economic, social and educational benefits of Iceland’s growing whale watching industry as a possible alternative to commercial whaling. We hope the Icelandic Government will seriously consider the benefits of eliminating commercial whaling and return to its previous position of acceptance of the moratorium on commercial whaling that was put in place by the International Whaling Commission in 1986.

In summary, we once again call upon Iceland to respect the IWC’s global moratorium and end its commercial whaling and international trade in whale products.


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