The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) contends that just because the US did not impose trade sanctions on Iceland for fin whaling, the country is not escaping the consequences.
In a blog post on the EIA’s website, the organisation says Iceland should not believe they have escaped any blowback for the practice of hunting fin whales, which are a globally endangered species.
It’s important to look for the silver lining in this particular diplomatic cloud and, although we didn’t get the high level of commitment we felt was required, what did emerge in Obama’s Memorandum are six measures which will ensure Iceland does not slip out from under international scrutiny:
• relevant US delegations attending meetings with Icelandic officials and senior Administration officials visiting Iceland will raise US concerns regarding commercial whaling by Icelandic companies and seek ways to halt such action;
• Cabinet secretaries will evaluate the appropriateness of visits to Iceland, depending on continuation of the current suspension of fin whaling;
• the Department of State will examine Arctic cooperation projects and, where appropriate, link US cooperation to the Icelandic Government changing its whaling policy and abiding by the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling;
• the Departments of Commerce and State will consult with other international actors on efforts to end Icelandic commercial whaling and have Iceland abide by the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling;
• the Department of State will inform the Government of Iceland that the US will continue to monitor the activities of Icelandic companies that engage in commercial whaling;
• relevant US agencies will continue to examine other options for responding to continued whaling by Iceland.
The President further ordered that the situation be kept under review while his administration continues to urge Iceland to cease commercial whaling. He added: “I believe that these actions hold the most promise of effecting a reduction in Iceland’s commercial whaling activities, and support our broader conservation efforts.”
It would appear the situation has reached the state of a polite stand-off, with the US effectively warning Iceland ‘We’re watching you’.
The article also reminds readers that Kristján Loftsson, the director of Hvalur hr., Iceland’s sole whaling company, is a “multi-millionaire … whose company Hvalur hunts the fin whales and who was instrumental in setting up an import company in Japan to create a new market for the product, bolstered by artificially low prices.”
While the diplomatic pressure from the US on Iceland may appear on the softer side, the EIA warns, “if Loftsson goes whaling again next year, we would certainly expect an appropriate response, and one with appropriate fiscal teeth.”