Confusion over Icelandic posture on whaling
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2009:
REYKJAVIK, Iceland–Leaving office on January 27, 2009
after the collapse of the coalition government in which he was
fisheries minister, Einar Gudfinnsson as his last official act in
office authorized Icelandic whalers to kill up to 150 fin whales and
150 minke whales per year.
Fin whales are internationally recognized as an endangered
species. Icelandic whalers had killed seven since 2006.
Gudfinnasson’s action was seen as a gesture of defiance
toward the European Union, which “would be likely to demand an end
to whaling as a condition of membership,” said BBC News environment
correspondent Richard Black. Much of the Icelandic fishing industry
opposes joining the EU, in resistance to the EU’s Common Fisheries
Gudfinnasson’s successor, Stein-grimur Sigfusson, who is
both fisheries and finance minister in a new coalition government, on
February 4, 2009 told media that, “those with vested interests in
whaling” had been warned that the whaling quota would b e
reconsidered. On February 18, however, Sigfusson said he had been
legally advised that, “The Icelandic state is bound by the
decision,” at least for 2009. Sigfusson hinted that the quota might
be cut for the next four years.
While Gudfinnsson tried to increase the Icelandic whaling
quota, Norway in December 2008 reduced its quota from 1,052 in 2008
to 885 for 2009. The new quota will be in effect until 2013. With
little market for whale meat, Norwegian whalers have killed only
about half the quota in recent years.