Iceland Snubbed Over Whaling

12.6.2014
Words by Paul Fontaine
Iceland was not amongst the countries invited to take part in a conference on the world's oceans, due to the continued practice of whale hunting.

RÚV reports that the conference - Our Ocean - is hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Many countries around the world have been invited to take part in the two-day conference, where subjects such as pollution and sustainability in our world's oceans will be discussed.

Iceland, despite having sought to participate, has not been invited to take part in the conference, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says this because of whale hunting.

While current Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson declined to comment, former Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson told reporters that the snub was "the most serious action that the Americans have used in their fight against Icelandic whaling", adding that more punitive measures should be expected in the future.

The news should be of little surprise to many Grapevine readers. As reported last April, the White House issued a statement, signed by US President Barack Obama, which outlined a number of directives the US planned against Iceland due to whaling.

Amongst these directives were to have "the Department of State ... re-examine bilateral cooperation projects and, where appropriate, to base U.S. cooperation with Iceland on the Icelandic government changing its whaling policy" as well as to have "[c]abinet secretaries and other senior Administration officials ... evaluate the appropriateness of visits to Iceland in light of Iceland's resumption of fin whaling and ongoing trade in fin whale parts and products."

"I believe that continuing focus on Icelandic whaling activities is needed to encourage Iceland to halt commercial whaling and support international conservation efforts," the US president said. "Just as the United States made the transition from a commercial whaling nation to a whale watching nation, we must enhance our engagement with Iceland to facilitate this change."

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