Iceland: Stop Whaling To Join EU

Published August 9, 2012

An associate fellow for the Centre for European Reform says that if Iceland wants to join the European Union, then it must stop whaling.
Iceland is currently in accession talks with the EU, with agricultural and fishing issues at the forefront of negotiations. Writing on the think tank’s blog, associate fellow Stephen Tindale argues that the EU could be flexible with Iceland on certain areas, but when it comes to fishing and whaling, they should stand firm:

On whaling, the Commission should not move at all. In 2006 Iceland resumed commercial whaling of fin whales and minke whales. Thus it joined Norway in defying the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Iceland has always caught some minke whales for “scientific research”. So the 2006 decision made little practical difference on minke – it simply represented Iceland becoming more open about its reasons for whaling. But it did represent a restart of fin whale hunting. Fin whales are an endangered species. Iceland maintains that there are enough fin whales in Icelandic waters for a small catch to be sustainable. This may or may not be correct, but is anyway not relevant to EU negotiations. EU law prevents the killing of any whales, even those which (like minke) are relatively numerous. EU law is based partly on the need to protect biological diversity, but partly also on the need to prevent animal suffering. Being killed by harpoons is a particularly painful, and often slow, way for an animal to die.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle believes accession talks with Iceland could be complete in 2013. At this time, it will be up to the Icelandic people to decide whether or not they want to join.



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