US considers Iceland sanctions over whaling

sperm-whale1The US claims Iceland’s whaling is breaking an international agreement and is said to be considering economic sanctions over the issue.

The US Department of Interior has found that the North Atlantic nation’s controversial whaling hunt violates the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The department sent its findings to President Barack Obama, who now has 60 days to decide whether economic sanctions should be the next step. In 2011, the DoI presented Obama with similar findings, but the president opted against sanctions, instead ordering diplomatic measures in order to raise awareness.

Only two countries, Iceland and Norway, do not comply with the global moratorium on commercial whaling, which was introduced in 1986. Japan continues to kill hundreds of whales each year, but claims it does not violate the moratorium because it permits “lethal research” on the creatures.

Very little whale meat is consumed by the Icelandic market; however, the island nation supplies the Japanese market. Authorities in Iceland increased their quotas to 383 whales this year, even though the country failed to catch its full quota last year.

US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the 1986 moratorium helped the number of whales in the ocean recover after being driven to the brink of extinction.

Animal rights and conservation groups praised the move and urged the US president to take action against Iceland.

The Natural Resources Defence Council’s Taryn Kiekow Heimer said killing fin whales is “short-sighted and brutal”. She added that despite the temporary financial reward, Iceland must be aware that the practice is unsustainable and cruel.