Sea Shepherd Calls on Total Boycott of Iceland

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is calling for a total boycott of all Icelandic products and tourism to Iceland in protest of Iceland's decision to contemptuously flaunt international conservation law with their illegal whaling activities.

Iceland's decision earlier this week to resume commercial whaling despite the global moratorium on commercial whaling has already hurt the country's tourism industry, with several whale watching companies reporting cancellations.

Iceland's announced intentions to murder 30 piked (Minke) whales and 9 endangered fin whales make it the third nation to whale illegally after Japan and Norway.

The tourist industry represents about 6% of Iceland's gross national product, according to Thorleifur Jonsson of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association.

Iceland is expecting 26,000 tourists to come to Iceland next year to participate in whale watching campaigns.

"People who pay money to go out and see whales are not going to support tourism in a nation that illegally kills whales," said Captain Paul Watson, founder and president of Sea Shepherd.

The Icelandic Travel Industry Association said the tourism industry had been growing robustly in the past decade, thanks in part to the emergence of whale watching as a tourist attraction. "We are very worried that (the resumption of whaling) will have an impact... The worst case scenario would be if tourists stop coming to Iceland," Jonsson said.

We need to give Iceland cause for worry. Any person who loves whales and wishes to see them protected must let Iceland know loud and clear that you have no intention of visiting Iceland until their unlawful and inhumane whaling is ended.

Please join us in voicing your opinion to:

Icelandic Tourist Board
Lækjargata 3
101 Reykjavík
Tel: +354-535-5500
Fax: +354-535-5501
General Director
Magnús Oddsson

The Icelandic Travel Industry Association*
Borgartúni 35
105 Reykjavík
Tel: +354 511 8000
Fax: +354 511 8008

*The Icelandic Travel Industry Association - SAF is the mutual venue of Icelandic companies operating in the field of travel and tourism. Its purpose is to promote and protect the common interest of the membership and to work towards improved proficiency of both staff and management.

Einar Kristinn Guðfinnsson
Iceland Ministry of Fisheries
Skulagata 4
150 Reykjavik
Tel +354-545-8300
Fax +354-562-1853

Take Action - Send a Letter Now

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Prime Minister of Iceland!

Below is a letter from the Icelandandic Department of Natural Resources sent to Sea Shepherd Hungary representative Veronika Kristof.

Other people who write may receive a similar letter. Captain Paul Watson has added his comments to the letter from Sigurdur Baldvinsson (in bold, brackets).

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2006 1:10 PM
To: Kristóf Veronika
Subject: Re: Campaign letter from Veronika Kristóf

Thank-you for your correspondence concerning Iceland's policy on whaling.

I wish to assure you that Iceland has no intention of catching any of the endangered species of whales, killed on a large scale by other whaling nations in the past. Iceland's resumption of sustainable whaling only involves abundant stocks and is linked to Iceland's overall policy of sustainable utilization of marine resources.

[Captain Watson: This is of course a blatant untruth because Iceland has targeted fin whales and fin whales are regarded as an endangered species by both CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). The Scientific Committee of the IWC disagrees with Iceland that there are abundant populations of fin whales.]

Several countries catch whales, most of them on a much bigger scale than Iceland. The biggest whaling countries among the members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) are the United States, Russia, Norway, Japan and Greenland. The whaling operations practiced by all those countries, as well as Iceland, are sustainable and legal and in accordance with the rules of the IWC.

[Norwegian whaling is a blatant violation of IWC regulations. Both Iceland and Norway are in violation of the global moratorium on commercial whaling. Japanese whaling attempts to hide behind the guise of "scientific research whaling" but they are fooling no one. Japanese whaling is illegal, and because they are hunting fins and humpbacks they are violating CITES regulations, also. Whaling in Greenland and the United States is conducted only by aboriginal peoples in accordance with IWC regulations.]

Iceland fully appreciates the need for careful conservation of marine resources. Our economy depends on those resources as marine products constitute around 60% of Iceland's revenue from exported goods and almost 40% of all Icelandic exported goods and services. Disruption of the ecological balance in Icelandic waters due to overfishing or other reasons could have catastrophic consequences for the livelihood of Icelanders.

[Iceland has already overfished their waters and Iceland is one of the leading causes of fish population diminishment in the North Atlantic. Iceland has not practiced careful fish management and has instead allowed Icelandic companies to over-exploit marine species.]

As you may know, Iceland was among the first countries in the world to extend its fishery limits to 200 nautical miles in the year 1975, in order to put an end to the uncontrolled fishing around Iceland by trawlers from other countries. Since then Iceland has taken great care in maintaining balanced and sustainable fishing in Icelandic waters by enforcing an effective management system for various fish species including cod, herring and capelin.

[Yes, Iceland did extend their territorial limits to force foreign fishing operations out of the area within 200 miles of their coastline. This simply meant that instead of British and Spanish ships over-exploiting the fish,100% of the diminishment that has occurred since 1975 is entirely the responsibility of Iceland.]

Iceland takes pride in its pioneering work in this field, which has been emulated by many countries in the world wishing to avoid unsustainable practices. The annual catch quotas for fishing and whaling are based on recommendations by scientists, who regularly monitor the status of the stocks, thus ensuring that the activity is sustainable.

[All scientists employed by industry and government with a vested interest in telling industry and government what they want to hear.]

For a number of years, Iceland has acknowledged the need for scientific research on whales to gain a better understanding of the interaction between the different whale stocks and other marine species and the role of whales in the marine ecosystem. Therefore, Iceland began implementing a research plan on Minke whales in 2003. So far, 161 Minke whales have been taken and we look forward to the completion of the research plan in 2007 when the sample size of 200 Minke whales has been obtained. Whaling quotas will take into account the number of whales that are taken in the implementation of the research plan, ensuring that the total number remains well below sustainable levels.

[All whales taken by Iceland since 2003 have been killed illegally. Their so-called "scientific" whaling was as unlawful as Japanese "scientific whaling." Implementing commercial whaling activities is a violation of the IWC implemented global moratorium on commercial whaling which has not been rescinded.]

There are many different whale species and stocks in the world's oceans. Some are in a poor state and in need of protection. However, many whale populations are far from being threatened or endangered. The total stock size of Central North-Atlantic Minke whales, for example, is close to 70,000 animals. Of those, around 43,600 live in Icelandic coastal waters. Fin whales in the Central North Atlantic number around 25,800 animals. Both estimates have been agreed by consensus by the Scientific Committees of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the North-Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO).

[The Norwegians have been insisting there are 700,000 piked (Minke) whales in the North Atlantic. At least the Icelanders don't exaggerate as much but they do exaggerate. There is no consensus on how many piked whales are in the North Atlantic. But even if there were 70,000 whales in the North Atlantic, that is the equivalent of a small European town. What incredibly audacity that a species with 6.5 billion refers to a species numbering 70,000 as overly abundant.]

Iceland's decision to resume sustainable whaling involves takes of 30 Minke whales and nine fin whales, during the current fishing year which ends on 31 August 2007. This will bring the total catches of Minke whales in Icelandic waters during this fishing year to 69, including the Minke whales taken in completing the research plan. These takes equal less than 0.2% of the number of Minke whales in Icelandic coastal waters, an even smaller fraction of the total stock, and less than 0.04% of fin whales in the Central North Atlantic. Both are considered to be close to pre-exploitation levels and estimated sustainable annual catch levels are 200 and 400 fin and Minke whales respectively. As the catch limits now issued are much lower, the catches will not have a significant impact on whale stocks. A responsible management system will ensure that the catch quotas set will not be exceeded. The catches are clearly sustainable and therefore consistent with the principle of sustainable development.

[To suggest that the current population of piked and fin whales are close to pre-exploitation levels is absurd and has little scientific credibility. Sustainable development has become the catch phrase of every resource extraction industry. They are simply words that mean very little.]

Iceland's resumption of sustainable whaling is legal under international law. At the time of the re-entry of Iceland into the IWC, Iceland made a reservation with respect to the so-called moratorium on commercial whaling. As a part of that reservation, Iceland committed itself not to authorize commercial whaling before 2006 and thereafter not to authorize such whaling while progress was being made in negotiating the IWC's  Revised  Management Scheme (RMS), a management framework for commercial whaling.

[Iceland can spin it anyway they wish but the bottom line is that in the eyes of the IWC and the International public, Icelandic whaling is illegal.]

At the IWC's Annual Meeting in 2005, Iceland went on record expressing its regret that no progress was being made in the RMS discussions. At this year's IWC Annual Meeting, Iceland's judgment of the situation was reconfirmed as the IWC generally agreed that talks on an RMS had reached an impasse. As a result, Iceland's reservation has taken effect. Therefore, Iceland is no longer bound by the so-called moratorium on commercial whaling. In this respect, Iceland is in the same position as other IWC members that are not bound by the moratorium.

[The reason no progress has been made on the Revised Management Scheme is that is simply a scheme to resurrect commercial whaling. Because Iceland, Norway, and Japan have not been getting what they want, they claim no progress has been made. Iceland remains bound to the global moratorium on whaling. You can't avoid the law by simply stating that you do not recognize the law. If that was so the world's prisons would be empty.]

Iceland was one of the first countries in the world to realize the importance of  a  conservation  approach  to whaling. As signs of overexploitation of whales emerged early in the last century, Iceland declared a ban on whaling for large whales around Iceland in 1915. Whaling was not resumed until 1948, except for limited catches 1935-1939. Strict rules and limitations were applied to whaling in Iceland from 1948 to 1985 when all commercial whaling was halted again following a decision by the IWC.

[Iceland was forced to stop whaling in 1939 because of the war, not because they were concerned for conservation. Icelandic whaling has never been managed responsibly. What Iceland is not getting, however, is that the killing of whales has no place in the 21st Century. It is a barbaric practice and is grossly inhumane.]

Iceland has been a leading advocate for international cooperation in ensuring sustainable use of living marine resources, including whales. This has been the position taken by Iceland within the IWC, based on the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling from 1946. The stated role of the IWC, according to its founding Convention, is to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.

[In other words, Iceland has been a leading advocate in ensuring continued economic exploitation of marine species. The objectives of the IWC have changed since 1946 and the Committee is now composed of a majority of members who have voted to ban whaling and have chosen to protect and conserve whales and not to kill them.]

I hope that this information will be useful to you in understanding Iceland's position on sustainable whaling. You may rest assured, that the desire to ensure the conservation of the whale stocks around Iceland and elsewhere is fully shared by the Icelandic Government.

[We are not assured and we intend to oppose illegal whaling by Iceland by all legal means.]

Sincerely yours,
Gunnar Pálsson, ambassador
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs