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Iceland cold on cruelty as it returns to whaling

News release 20 October 2006


Iceland cold on cruelty as it returns to whaling


Iceland’s resumption of commercial whaling in defiance of a 20-year-old international whaling ban shows a blatant disregard for the cruelty of modern whaling, according to a coalition of more than 140 animal welfare organisations in over 55 countries.

Despite Iceland’s Ministry of Fisheries stating that the planned catches will only involve abundant stocks and are linked to Iceland’s overall policy of sustainable utilisation of marine resources, its hunt quota for 2006/2007 includes nine endangered fin whales.

In recent years Iceland has also refused to submit any data on whale killing methods and times to death to the International Whaling Commission, claiming that its whaling operations are too small for the data to be of value.

“Regardless of the nature, size or sustainability of its whaling operation the indisputable fact is that whaling is both unnecessary and cruel,” said Bridget Vercoe, WSPA New Zealand’s Media and Campaigns Officer on behalf of Whalewatch.

She added that Whalewatch also believes that there is a real fear Iceland will try to expand its sale of whale meat to other countries which would be against the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that banned the international trade in all fin and minke whale products.

--

Notes for Editors:

- Iceland stopped whaling in 1989 and left the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1992. It rejoined the IWC in 2002 with a reservation to the moratorium. Since then it has hunted around 30 minke whales annually for so called “scientific research”.

- Iceland and Norway are the only IWC member countries hunting whales explicitly for commercial purposes. Japan hunts for so called “scientific research”.

- Iceland will hunt the whales using an exploding harpoon; Whalewatch supports the scientific evidence that there is no guaranteed humane way to kill any whale at sea. There are a number of uncontrollable factors i.e. visibility, sea conditions, distance/speed estimation and gunner accuracy, all of which ultimately inhibit an ensured lethal shot. Thus there will always be a significant risk of a harpoon striking a whale in a position which does not cause immediate death, but may cause intense and prolonged suffering.

ENDS

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