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Animal Rights Groups Urge Obama for Iceland Whaling Sanctions

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Animal Rights Groups Urge Obama for Iceland Whaling Sanctions

Whaling

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

A coalition of international animal protection and conservation organizations has asked the Obama administration to impose economic sanctions against Icelandic companies with corporate ties to the commercial whaling industry.

This request, stated in a letter delivered to President Obama this week, follows news that Hvalur hf. is shipping an estimated 1,800 tonnes of whale products to Japan “in defiance of an international ban on such trade,” the statement reads.

The coalition is asking the US administration to take action under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act, a law that authorizes the imposition of trade sanctions to compel compliance with international conservation agreements.

In September 2011 and again in April 2014, President Obama decided against imposing targeted trade sanctions under the Pelly Amendment to address Iceland’s commercial whaling, opting instead to attempt diplomatic pressure to bring about an end to whaling and the trade in whale products.

“Unfortunately, the diplomatic measures taken against Iceland have failed to deter Iceland from whaling and from conducting trade in whale products,” said Susan Millward, executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute. “President Obama must impose trade sanctions against Icelandic whaling interests now.”

“Without trade sanctions, whaling-linked companies importing seafood and other goods into the U.S. continue to rake in profits without consequence, while at the same time, the whalers themselves laugh all the way to the bank as they continue their cruel trade unhindered," said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America.

“Iceland is going to continue defying international bans until there is economic pressure to stop,” said Taryn Kiekow Heimer, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s time for the US to flex its economic muscle and impose targeted trade sanctions against companies doing business in the United States that are tied to whaling in Iceland.”

“Over the past year, President Obama has made an unprecedented commitment to end illegal wildlife trade. As Iceland continues to escalate its trade in endangered fin whale products, it is important that the administration hold Iceland accountable for its undermining of international law,” said Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor for Wildlife Conservation at the World Wildlife Fund.

“In 2015, it’s business as usual for Icelandic fin whalers: kill endangered fin whales and ship the meat to Japan. Obviously the current U.S. diplomatic sanctions are not working. If the Obama administration is serious about ending Iceland's commercial whaling, it’s time to play hardball and impose targeted economic sanctions immediately,” adds Phil Kline, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA.

Amy Zets, policy analyst for the Environmental Investigation Agency stated, “This renegade whaling and international trade must stop. It’s time to try another tool in the toolbox. President Obama should enact targeted sanctions on Icelandic companies associated with whaling.”

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