UK, German citizens reject Iceland's commercial whaling

A new poll commissioned by leading anti-whaling organizations, Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Humane Society International (HSI), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), OceanCare, Pro Wildlife, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), indicates overwhelming public opposition in Germany and the U.K. to Iceland’s resumption of commercial whaling, with nine out of 10 people in both countries stating they disagree with Iceland’s decision to resume whaling.

In 1982, with whale populations decimated by whaling, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) voted for a ban on the commercial hunting of whales, which came into effect in 1986. Despite this, Iceland resumed whaling in 2003, initially targeting minke whales as part of what it deemed scientific research. In 2006, Iceland resumed commercial whaling for both minkes and endangered fin whales.

The 2014 hunt is currently underway and to date more than 100 fin and 22 minke whales have been killed this year, bringing the number of whales killed by Iceland to more than 1,000 since 2003, according to AWI. Iceland has also exported thousands of metric tons (MT) of whale products, almost exclusively to Japan, in defiance of a ban on international trade in whale products imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The results of the poll, conducted for the groups by ORC International in late July, are being released prior to the 2014 annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to be held in Portorož, Slovenia, from 15 to 18 September.

“We urge IWC member countries to denounce Iceland's cruel whaling industry, and to use all diplomatic tools at their disposal to ensure that Iceland abides by both the commercial whaling moratorium and the CITES ban on trade in whale products,” said Susan Millward, Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). “As the poll results clearly show, the public will support efforts to bring an end to Iceland's undermining of international conservation measures for whales.”

Survey participants were also asked as to their concerns related to seafood purchases from Icelandic fishing companies linked to whaling. More than four out of five people responded that they would be unlikely to purchase seafood products from these companies, including more than half of the respondents who declared themselves very unlikely to do so. Females were even more likely than males in both countries not to buy from such companies.

“Nearly 90 percent of females surveyed in the U.K. and Germany declared themselves unlikely to buy seafood from companies linked to whaling. As women tend to do most of the food purchasing for their households, this statistic should set alarm bells ringing at Iceland’s leading fisheries company, HB Grandi, which is closely linked with fin whaling, especially as the company only recently had to report a 34 percent decline in profits compared to 2013,” said Chris Butler-Stroud, WDC CEO.

“Whaling has no place in a modern world, and Iceland is out of step with the majority of nations that want to see whales fully protected. It persistently thwarts the rule of international law and undermines decisions made by international treaty bodies to protect whales from commercial slaughter and international trade. Whales are long-lived, slow to reproduce and many populations are still recovering from the relentless hunting of previous centuries. Given all these matters, it is unconscionable that Iceland continues to kill these animals just to sell their meat to trendy restaurants and stores,” said Kitty Block, HIS VP.


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