REYKJAVIK, Iceland - November 1 - The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) – http://www.ifaw.org -- today welcomed continued diplomatic pressure against the Icelandic government due to its whaling policy. Ambassadors from 25 countries plus the EU Commission delivered the demarche -- a diplomatic statement signed by representatives of the countries -- to the Icelandic foreign and fisheries ministries.
The demarche expresses the countries’ opposition to the resumption of commercial whale hunting and asks the Icelandic government to reconsider its policy. "We are heartened by the strong global reaction and hopeful that the Icelandic government will reconsider its misguided decision," said Joth Singh, IFAW's director of Wildlife and Habitat Protection. "We have no quarrel with the people of Iceland. Beyond the endangered whales themselves, the clear victims of this government decision are Iceland's tourism industry and international reputation."
In an announcement that has generated unprecedented media coverage worldwide, Iceland's Minister of Fisheries, Einar K. Gudfinnsson, issued hunting permits for nine endangered fin whales and 30 minke whales on Oct. 17. Since then, Iceland whalers have killed seven endangered fin whales and one minke whale.
Fin whales are second only to the blue whale in terms of size, growing to average lengths of 18-22m and weights of 30-80 tons. Hunted in significant numbers by whalers in the past, they are now considered endangered under the World Conservation Union (IUCN) guidelines. Minke whales are smaller, with lengths of up to 10m and are characterized as lively and curious.
By tradition, Icelanders do not consume fin whale meat, leaving only Japan as a potential buyer for the whale meat. But Japanese Ambassador to Iceland Fumiko Saiga publicly announced that Japan did not want the meat, citing current whale meat surpluses in Japan.
Said Dr. Singh, "With no market for the meat, the question remains: why has the government recently revived such a wasteful and economically unnecessary pursuit from the past?"
The full list of countries signed on to the demarche is: France, United States, Germany, UK, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Mexico, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand, Chile, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Monaco, the Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Peru, along with the EU Commission.
IFAW is calling on its 2.5 million supporters worldwide to take action against the government's decision to resume commercial whaling. To learn more, visit http://www.ifaw.org today.
Editors: Broadcast quality video and still images of Iceland whaling is available at http://www.thenewsmarket.com/ifaw