Iceland and US on course for collision over whaling

The dispute over whaling between the US and Iceland about the latter’s refusal to scrap its commercial whale hunt appears to be escalating further after President Barack Obama revealed a number of measures against the North Atlantic nation.

However, the measures do not include banning fishing and seafood products from Iceland, which several environmental groups have repeatedly demanded. Furthermore, Iceland is now exporting more fish to North America than ever before.

The measures against Iceland include instructing American agencies to voice their concerns about Iceland’s continued stance to engage in commercial whaling as well as trade in fin whale products at any meetings with officials from Iceland. US officials have also been directed to re-examine bilateral cooperation schemes with Iceland, while senior officials must evaluate all visits to the country.

The US government will monitor all companies that continue to catch and trade in fin whale, with all relevant agencies being instructed to report back to Obama in six months’ time about the status of Iceland’s whaling. The agencies have also been told to look at other options for additional measures.

Despite protests from around the world, Iceland has continued to insist its whaling policy is sustainable and part of its culture. It argues that other countries that have different lifestyles and outlooks fail to understand this.

Iceland’s Fisheries and Agricultural Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson described it as “disappointing” that the US feel it necessary to take such measures. He said the fishing complies with international agreements and that scientific research has proven the fisheries are sustainable. He added that the country’s international trading of fin whale products is legal and in line with international obligations.