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Iceland Returns to Whaling

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Issue: 6 Section: International News Iceland Topics: water, fisheries

August 23, 2003

Iceland Returns to Whaling

Iceland has decided to risk its reputation and its tourism industry to begin whaling again, a practice it had stopped since 1989. The move comes amid protests from conservation and animal rights organizations.

Minke whales are being hunted by Icelandic whalers for "scientific purposes". photo: International Fund for Animal Welfare
The government of Iceland has defended the move, saying that the harvest of 38 minke whales is required for scientific data. Stefen Asmundsson, the country's whaling commissioner, said, " It's obvious to anyone that whales are very big animals and they eat a lot-a lot of fish. Precisely the effect they are having on fish stocks around Iceland, we don't know. We need better data". In particular, there is concern that regional cod stocks are threatened.

Leading the charge against the whaling expedition is the International Fund for Animal Welfare. IFAW spokesperson, Gill Sanders said in a press release that, " Iceland's return to this cruel and needless slaughter flies in the face of decades of international conservation efforts". The press release goes on to state that, "Iceland's international credibility and economy may be among the ultimate victims. The country has whaled in the past but was forced to give up its practice in 1989 after an international boycott targeted Icelandic fishing products, a move that could very well be repeated.

Although Iceland is now a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the move to kill 38 minkes will not result in their expulsion. A legal loophole allows countries to whale for scientific purposes, something Norway and Japan uses to harvest as many as 500 whales per year. (BBC, IFAW)


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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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