007 is pissed off with Iceland—that’s right, James Bond, with his license to kill.
In his capacity as ‘goodwill ambassador’ of the US National Resources Defense Council, Pierce Brosnan has publicly requested President Obama impose stern sanctions and “make Iceland pay a steep price for its inhumane and illegal slaughter of whales.”
This statement comes just a few days after the US Department of Commerce declared Iceland to be in violation of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) global commercial whaling ban and the Obama administration decided to cite Iceland under a US law, which, according to the Associate Press (AP), “allows the president to act against foreign nationals or countries who flout international animal conservations rules.” President Obama has 60 days to decide. As a general rule “threat of sanctions is enough to make targeted countries change their policies.”
As stated in the International Business Times, “If Obama were to take action, this would be the first time trade sanctions would be imposed on another nation for this reason, setting a conservation precedent that nearly every nation would heartily welcome.” The fact that Pierce Brosnan is encouraging Obama to do just that seems to imply that Hollywood’s thinkers and left-wingers are firmly behind the move.
“Iceland has increased its self-allocated fin whale quota to 150 animals per year, three times what the IWC considers sustainable for the species’ survival,” AP notes. AP also goes on to point out that “in recent years the IWC has been beset with allegations of corruption…”
Just a week earlier, the IWC met in the Channel Islands, but after a four-day session, pro-whaling nations led by Japan, but including Iceland, walked out on a vote on the creation of a whaling sanctuary in the South Atlantic. Quoted in The Australian, head of Monaco’s delegation, Frederic Briand said: “You can only conclude that this commission—which, despite a moratorium, does not have a mandate to stop the large-scale hunting still going on—is generally dysfunctional.”
The Independent ran with a piece on July 27 with the title: “In Iceland, hunters and watchers battle over whales.” They spoke with Hördur Sigurbjarnarson, of Húsavík’s North Sailing tour company, who said, “Whaling is bad for business…And it’s useless…there’s no market for whale meat.” Apparently, during the main season, Hördur takes out over 30,000 tourists to whale watch. “You get more revenue out of watching the whales than out of hunting them,” he told the Independent.
As usual, 68-year-old, Kristján Loftsson (owner of Iceland’s largest whaling company, Hvalur) rears his head in the Independent piece, agreeing that demand for whale meat has diminished since the disaster in Japan. “Demand has shrunk [but] it will pick up.” According to Kristján, there are up to 60,000 minke and fin whales in Icelandic waters, “So if we take 150 a year, that’s nothing,” he says.
We’ll have to see just how headstrong the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries turns out to be. Somehow I have a feeling that with pressure from the White House and the Hollywood lobby, even they will have to bow down.
Isn’t Iceland trying to promote itself as an ideal filming location? Wasn’t the James Bond movie Die Another Day, starring Pierce Brosnan, filmed at Jökulsárlón in Iceland?
Just in case the whale issue weren’t enough, the mackerel policy is resurfacing. European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki very recently met with delegates from Norway and the EU to get Iceland back to the mackerel-negotiating-table. FISHupdate.com reported that “Brussels…called for immediate inspections in Iceland…with regard to illegal and unregulated fishing.” And furthermore, “the EU has been asked to ‘freeze’ Iceland’s membership talks until the [mackerel] issue is settled.”
Pressure from the EU may not move mountains, but if the unfettered voice of Hollywood has its say, things are surely about to change. In Pierce Brosnan’s words: “You can be sure that Iceland will not end the abhorrent practice of whaling until it is forced to do so. Let’s fight ‘em. Again and again.”
It strikes me that Kristján may have finally met his match. Besides, the IWC hasn’t given him the license to kill.