Iceland urged to stop whaling

Posted: 1 November 2006

Diplomats today delivered a strongly-worded protest condemning Iceland over its decision to resume commercial whaling.

The British ambassador to Iceland, Alp Mehmet, led a group of other ambassadors, including those from the US, Germany and France, to Iceland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to urge the government to abandon the killing.

Fin (Finback) whale. Photo: Cetacean Society International
Fin (Finback) whale. Photo: Cetacean Society International
The short baleen in a finback whale's mouth is specialised to capture schooling fish and many other small creatures in huge quantities. Finbacks may use the brilliant white on the right side of their heads and bellies to frighten prey into concentrations. Then they lunge with mouths open and take in tons of water and prey at once.© Cetacean Society International
Last month, the country broke a 20-year moratorium on whaling and announced plans to issue licences to kill nine fin whales and 30 minke whales by next August. An endangered fin whale has already been killed.

Today's statement, signed by 25 countries including Australia, Brazil, France, Germany and the USA, and by the European Commission, called on Iceland to respect the moratorium and halt commercial whaling operations.

It said: "We believe that commercial whaling quotas determined and prosecuted in the absence of any agreed management system undermines the proper functioning of the International Whaling Commission.

"We repeat our countries' opposition to this operation and urge the government of Iceland to reconsider its position and reverse this unnecessary decision, and to abandon its current operations."

Last week, the UK's fisheries minister, Ben Bradshaw, met with Iceland's UK ambassador to express his grave concern over the decision to defy the ban.

Mr Bradshaw said today: "This united action shows the depth of feeling and concern, not only in Britain but all over the world, about this cruel and abhorrent activity.

"There is no justifiable reason to kill these whales. Today's protest leaves Iceland in no doubt about the strength of feeling against its decision to side-step an international agreement to stop the killing of whales.

"It has done great damage to its reputation and image. We and many other countries that oppose the killing of whales will react in the strongest possible way to any attempt by Iceland to open trade in whale meat."

The UK said it would continue to protest at the highest level against Iceland's decision.

logo Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2006. This article was first published by The Guardian, (Wednesday November 1, 2006). All rights reserved. Reproduced with kind permission.

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