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Icelandic Criminal Whaling Resumes

photo credit: Center for Whale Research

This week Iceland announced it would increase the slaughter of endangered Fin whales and threatened Minke whales. Iceland, in crisis after its economy and ruling coalition collapsed, ended a 20-year ban on commercial whaling in August 2006, issuing quotas that ran through August 2007. After a temporary halt, the country resumed whaling in May last year.

Iceland had not slaughtered any whales since Sea Shepherd activists sank half the Icelandic whaling fleet in November 1986.

"Today the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture published a regulation setting a quota for the next five years," the fisheries and agriculture ministry said in a statement.

Iceland is in crisis after the collapse of its ruling coalition and the resignation of its prime minister due to the effects of the global credit crunch. Talks are under way to form a new government. The quota has been set at 250 whales. Outgoing fisheries and Agriculture Minister Einar Gudfinnsson announced the change in a news release and did not provide any reasons for the increase.

"Total allowable takes of fin and minke whales for the next five years will be according to scientific recommendations of the (Icelandic) Marine Research Institute," the minister said.

Last year, whalers were authorized to catch nine Fin whales and 40 Minke whales. The International Conservation Union lists Fin whales as endangered species.

Gudfinnsson's announcement follows suggestions by International Whaling Commission officials that Japan could be authorized to resume commercial whaling off its coast, in return for killing fewer whales for scientific research in the Antarctic.

Iceland, Norway and Japan are the only countries killing whales authorized to illegally sell their meat. This year, Iceland and Japan flagrantly violated the regulations of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species when Iceland shipped Fin whale meat to market in Japan.

Photo credit: / November 2006

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