After hunting fin whales and other whale species to near extinction, the world came together and decided enough was enough and the International Whaling Commission placed a moratorium on all commercial whaling activities from 1986 onwards.
The moratorium is still in place today, but as many know, is not being followed by two countries: Iceland and Japan.
Japan claims that its hunts are for “scientific research,” yet that of course, is not true. Why the world allows it to continue is still a mystery, but Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is certainly not buying it, and recently drove out Japanese whalers from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary – woohoo! The end to their slaughter might be in sight!
However, across the globe in the Atlantic is another problem: Icelandic whaling, which resumed operations in 2006.
As Joel R. Reynolds, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, writes in the LA Times, “Today, over a quarter of a century after the moratorium took effect, Iceland is escalating its hunting and trading of fin whales (and other whale species), in disregard for international law, economic reason and ecological sanity.”
Reynolds is indeed correct – Iceland has actually increased its whaling activities in recent years despite the fact that fin whales – one of its main targets – is still internationally protected as an endangered species.
Just over a month ago in December 2013, the Icelandic government announced new quota numbers, allowing 229 minke whales and 154 endangered fin whales to be killed every year for the next five years.
An apt and simple response to this is: WTF, Iceland?!
Yet, don’t throw the towels in so soon. Just this week, the U.S. government actually stepped up and finally took a stand against Iceland’s unsustainable whaling activities.
According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release, “The Department of the Interior has certified to President Obama under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).”
Woohoo! There is hope for change!
“Just 25 years ago, commercial whaling had nearly driven whales to extinction, but thanks to a global effort to conserve whale stocks and end over-harvesting, several whale species have begun to recover,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “Iceland’s whaling activities undermine these worldwide efforts to conserve whales.”
This isjust so nice to hear, almost makes you want to read the news over and over again, doesn’t it?
Now, we just have to wait and see what President Obama will do. According to International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the President will have 60 days to “issue a formal response which includes the option to issue economic sanctions against Icelandic companies participating in the trade of whale products.”
Fingers crossed that President Obama will take a strong stance against Icelandic whaling activities because, truly, it’s about time that someone really stood up and made others accountable for their unsustainable and cruel actions toward animals and the environment.
And guess what, Green Monsters? We can encourage him to take a stand by signing this petition from IFAW. What’s more, you can send a personalized comment to the White House here (or you can call, too!). Be a voice for the whales today – they need us.
Image source: Mike Baird / Flickr