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Groups Call for U.S. Action as Iceland Violates International Whaling Law

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#1 AnimuX



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Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:37 PM



More than 180 endangered whales are expected to be slaughtered in the country this year

WASHINGTON, DC – A coalition of international animal welfare and conservation groups is calling on the Obama Administration to impose economic sanctions against Iceland after Iceland´s whaling company Hvalur hf announced it will hunt and sell the meat of up to 184 endangered fin whales this summer after a two year hiatus. Iceland is one of three countries that refuse to abide by international whaling laws banning the killing and trading of whales for commercial gain. The groups today sent a letter to the Secretaries of State, Commerce and Interior calling for stronger measures by the Obama Administration.

“President Obama has said that the US opposes resumed commercial whaling by Iceland” said Susan Millward, Executive Director of the Animal Welfare Institute, AWI. “It is now time to act. Certification by the Secretary of Interior is long overdue and should be concluded urgently. There is no obstacle preventing President Obama from imposing trade sanctions against Iceland now under the Pelly Amendment.”

Iceland has flouted international laws since 2003; killing 496 minke whales and 280 endangered fin whales and exporting over 2,800 metric tons of whale products to Japan. Despite international pressure to discontinue this barbaric practice, Iceland recently announced plans to resume fin whaling this season after a two year pause, beginning in June.

“Endangered whales do not belong on a chopping block or dinner table,” said Taryn Kiekow, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The United States can play a pivotal role in ending the slaughter of whales by imposing economic sanctions that send a clear message—whaling is no longer tolerated.”

On September 15, 2011, President Obama adopted the Secretary of Commerce’s July 2011 “certification” under the Pelly Amendment that Iceland’s commercial whaling is undermining the effectiveness of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) which has prohibited commercial whaling since 1986. “Iceland's actions threaten the conservation status of an endangered species and undermine multilateral efforts to ensure greater worldwide protection for whales,” said President Obama. He directed Cabinet Secretaries to use diplomatic efforts to dissuade Iceland from continuing whaling.

“In the 21st century, for a government to support an industry built from the trade in flesh and other products from slow-to-reproduce marine mammals who can live up to 90 years of age, is reckless and irresponsible,” said Kitty Block, vice president of Humane Society International.

“Iceland’s actions meet the conditions for Pelly sanctions, and we’ve provided the U.S. government with the information necessary to target those sanctions at the Hvalur Group, which owns Iceland’s fin whaling industry, and its associated companies, including HB Grandi, Iceland’s biggest fishing company,” said Millward.

“Iceland has crossed a line by exporting more than 2,800 tons of fin whale meat and blubber to Japan since 2008, repeatedly defying the international protection for this endangered species afforded by its listing on Appendix I of CITES,” said Allan Thornton, president of the Environmental Investigation Agency.

"President Obama, the time for talking about saving whales is past; it's now time for action,” said Phil Kline, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace, adding “as you said 'commercial whaling has to end'; imposing economic sanctions now will help that happen."

“Iceland’s decision to resume international trade in the meat of endangered fin whales presents the perfect opportunity for the U.S. to put real teeth behind its commitment to treat illegal wildlife trade as a foreign policy priority,” said Leigh Henry, Senior Policy Advisor at the World Wildlife Fund. “If the U.S. government is willing to ask others to take action – then they should do the same.”

In December 2010, 19 global conservation and animal welfare groups filed a petition to the U.S. Commerce and Interior Secretaries calling for action against Iceland under the Pelly Amendment. The filing identified specific Icelandic companies as potential targets for economic sanctions, including major seafood industry players tied to Iceland’s whaling industry. At the center is the Icelandic fin whaling company Hvalur hf.

The 8 May letter to the Secretaries of Commerce, State and Interior can be accessed here: http://awionline.org...SSN-050813.pdf.


Media Contacts:
AWI: Susan Millward, 202-640-9606, susan@awionline.org
EIA: Amy Zets, 202-483-6621, amyzets@eia-global.org
The HSUS: Rebecca Basu, 301-258-3152, rbasu@humanesociety.org
NRDC: Jessica Lass, 310-434-2300, jlass@nrdc.org

Animal Welfare Institute (AWI)
The Animal Welfare Institute, headquartered in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1951 and is dedicated to alleviating suffering inflicted on animals by humans. www.awionline.org

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is an NGO that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals.  www.eia-global.org

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and force solutions for a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace's goal is to ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity.

Humane Society International
Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org. Follow HSI on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

World Wildlife Fund
WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit www.worldwildlife.org to learn more.

“Anything else you are interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolute critical moment in the history of our planet.” -- Carl Sagan

#2 AnimuX



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Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:39 PM




The Honorable Rebecca Blank
Acting Secretary of Commerce
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20230

The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary of Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington DC 20240

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

RE: Urgent need for U.S. action in response to Iceland’s commercial whaling and trade in whale products

Dear Madam Acting Secretary Blank, Madam Secretary Jewell and Mr. Secretary Kerry,

The undersigned members of the Whales Need US coalition, along with the Species Survival Network (www.ssn.org), who collectively represent tens of millions of United States citizens, are gravely concerned with reports in the Icelandic media on 3 May 2013, (1) indicating that Mr. Kristjan Loftsson, the director of Iceland’s fin whaling company Hvalur hf, has decided to resume a commercial hunt for endangered fin whales this summer after a two year pause.

The quota for fin whales in 2013 could be as high as 184, given an annual base quota of 154 whales, plus an allowed carryover of 20% of the unused quota from last year. (2) This quota has been unilaterally set by Iceland using catch calculating methods that have not been endorsed by either the International Whaling Commission (IWC) or its Scientific Committee. (3)

Furthermore, based on the comments made to the media, it is clear that Mr. Loftsson intends to continue to export whale meat. He notes, for example, in the interview with Morgunblaðið that Japan is the main market for Hvalur ́s whale products. (4)

In July 2011, then U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke certified Iceland under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act, finding that its ongoing commercial whaling “diminishes the effectiveness of international conservation agreements.” (5) This was in response to a Pelly Amendment petition filed in December 2010 by many of the organizations who have signed on to this letter. That petition was filed with both the Department of Commerce (DoC) and Department of Interior (DoI), and alleged that Iceland’s commercial whaling was undermining the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). To date, the DoI has failed to respond to the petition.

On 15 September 2011, President Obama concurred with Secretary Locke’s conclusion, stating that "Iceland's actions threaten the conservation status of an endangered species and undermine multilateral efforts to ensure greater worldwide protection for whales," and the President issued a series of directives to all Cabinet Secretaries and heads of government agencies to ensure that the “issue continues to receive the highest level of attention.” (6)

We are aware and appreciate that, in response to the President’s directive, representatives from several agencies have raised the whaling issue with their Icelandic counterparts. However, we are concerned that all agencies have not fully complied with these directives. Given the decision to resume fin whaling in Iceland, we believe that it is now absolutely clear that these diplomatic efforts have failed to achieve their goal.

Indeed, not only have the directives failed to permanently put an end to Iceland’s commercial slaughter of minke and endangered fin whales but, in the intervening years since the President’s announcement, exports of whale products to Japan have increased such that Icelandic whale meat now represents 20 percent of whale meat sales in Japan. (7) Furthermore, in February 2013, the Norwegian statistical bureau (SSB) reported that 14.1 metric tons of whale meat was apparently imported from Iceland. (8) We have repeatedly notified officials within DoI of this ongoing trade, which clearly undermines CITES, yet Interior has failed to render a decision on the petition.

This trade in CITES Appendix I species subject to reservations was recently the subject of an analysis by the United Nations Environment Program’s World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC), which found that trade under reservation can result in “sizeable levels of trade and may undermine the effectiveness
of Appendix I listings.” Notably, WCMC drew attention to Iceland’s large exports of fin and minke whale products under reservation. (9)

The Obama Administration’s actions have been insufficient to ensure that the international bans on commercial whaling and trade are respected by Iceland. Trade sanctions and other robust actions are now urgently required to send a strong signal to Iceland that the U.S. will use all available tools to prevent the resumption of fin whaling, and to stop the flow of trade in Icelandic whale products.

To achieve this, the undersigned NGOs urge the U.S. to use the current certification of Iceland by the DoC to immediately impose targeted trade sanctions against individuals and companies engaged in Iceland’s commercial whale hunt, as well as those facilitating the hunt pursuant to the current certification of Iceland by the DoC. We believe that narrowly targeting such companies (on which we have provided extensive information) would both fulfill the President’s directive to “raise U.S. concerns regarding commercial whaling by Icelandic companies and seek ways to halt such action,” and be consistent with U.S. obligations under the World Trade Organization agreements. In addition, we re spectfully request the DoI to immediately certify Iceland for undermining CITES and to recommend the use of targeted trade sanctions against Iceland.

We reemphasize the need for urgent action by the U.S. government at this time both to prevent a resumption of fin whaling and to compel Iceland to cease trade in whale products. Given the existing evidence, we are convinced that targeted economic sanctions are the only tool that will achieve these outcomes. Because Iceland is already subject to certification by the DoC, President Obama has the authority to immediately impose such sanctions in response to Mr. Loftsson’s announcement.

Thank you in advance for considering these concerns and for acting with urgency to address them. We look forward to receiving notification as to how the U.S. will respond to these developments. If you have any questions about these issues, need more information, or would like to discuss these issues in person, please do not hesitate to contact Susan Millward, Executive Director at the Animal Welfare Institute at susan@awionline.org or, by telephone, at (202) 446-


Cathy Liss
Animal Welfare Institute

Will Travers
Species Survival Network

900 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20003

On behalf of:

Animal Welfare Institute
Cetacean Society International
Dolphin Connection
Environmental Investigation Agency
Fluke Foundation
Great Whale Conservancy
Green Vegans/The New Human Ecology
Greenpeace – USA
Humane Society International
The Humane Society of the United States
International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute
Nantucket Marine Mammal Conservation Project
Natural Resources Defense Council
Origami Whales Project
Save the Whales Again!
Whale and Dolphin Conservation
The Whaleman Foundation
World Society for the Protection of Animals

Cc (by electronic mail):

Ms. Nancy Sutley, Chair, CEQ
Mr. Roddy Gabel, Chief, Division of Management Authority, USFWS
Mr. Craig Hoover, Chief, Wildlife Trade and Conservation Branch, USFWS
Ms. Anne St. John, Biologist, USFWS
Ms. Laura Noguchi, Biologist, USFWS
Ms. Danielle Kessler, Outreach & Education Specialist, USFWS
Mr. Ryan Wulff, Acting IWC Commissioner for the U.S./Senior Policy Advisor, NOAA
Ms. Melissa Andersen, IWC Coordinator, NOAA
Ms. Elizabeth Phelps, Foreign Service Officer, US State Department
Mr. Roger Eckert, Attorney Advisor, NOAA
Ms. Allison Reed, International Affairs Specialist, NOAA
Dr. Timothy J. Ragen, Executive Director, Marine Mammal Commission
Mr. Mike Gosliner, Esq., General Counsel, Marine Mammal Commission
Mr. Mike Tillman, Commissioner, Marine Mammal Commission
Congressman Bill Keating

(1) See http://skessuhorn.is...od=001|002| and http://www.mbl.is/fr...efjast_ad_nyju/

(2) According to the current Icelandic regulations on whaling, quotas are to be set upon the basis of advice given by Iceland’s Marine Research Institute, with a potential carryover of 20% of the unused quota from the previous year. See http://www.hafro.is/...2/34-hvalir.PDF and http://www.reglugerd...f/key2/058-2009

(3) See, e.g., http://iwc.int/cache...k0c00/63-15.pdf

(4) Supra note 1.

(5) See http://www.noaanews....llyiceland.html

(6) See http://www.whitehous...elandic-whaling

(7) See http://ika-net.jp/en...t-does-not-sell

(8) See https://www.ssb.no/u...mi/statistikker

(9) See UNEP/WCMC. CITES TRADE–A GLOBAL ANALYSIS OF TRADE IN APPENDIX-I LISTED SPECIES 2013. CoP16 Inf. 34 March2013; accessible at: http://www.cites.or

“Anything else you are interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolute critical moment in the history of our planet.” -- Carl Sagan