Wants To Know Whaling's Effect On Relationship With US - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Wants To Know Whaling’s Effect On Relationship With US

Published October 14, 2015

Photos by
Environmental Investigation Agency

Nine opposition MPs want to know what effect whaling has had on Iceland’s relationship with the United States. The White House has made their distaste with whaling known to Iceland on more than one occasion.

RÚV reports that the request for a report on the matter has been submitted to Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson. In so doing, they cite numerous examples of America’s disapproval of whaling, while asking if other foreign relations matters are related to whaling.

For example, no American secretary has come to Iceland since 2008, when then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice paid a visit. While the MPs who submitted the request want to know if this is at all related to whaling, there are direct examples of American objections to whaling.

In April 2014, the White House issued a statement wherein US President Barack Obama said that the president was “concerned” about Iceland’s whale hunting, and that he believed the issue should “receive the highest level of attention”. To this end, he issued a number of directives against the country.

Two months later, Iceland was deliberately snubbed from attending an international conference on ocean sustainability, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the snub was due to whaling.

Whaling has also had some effect on trade with at least one American company: Whole Foods, who in 2014 made the decision to stop marketing Icelandic lamb in their stores, while still making it available for sale. This decision was made in response to whaling.

The Foreign Minister is himself aware of the situation, having admitted that Iceland ceasing to hunt whales would likely improve relations with the US.

In light of all this, the MPs who submitted the request want to know if whaling has harmed “the diplomatic relationship between Iceland and the US, and if so, whether the economic importance of whaling justifies its continuation.”

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