Blog | Tell President Obama to Sanction Iceland for Illegal Whaling

Tell President Obama to Sanction Iceland for Illegal Whaling

March 24, 2011 by Mark J. Palmer, Save Japan Dolphins


Tell President Obama to Sanction Iceland for Illegal Whaling

By Mark J. Palmer

Associate Director

International Marine Mammal Project

Earth Island Institute

Aside from Japan’s illegal “scientific” whaling operations in Antarctica and the north Pacific Ocean, Iceland and Norway are the only two nations still conducting commercial whaling in defiance of the worldwide moratorium approved by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) more than twenty-five years ago.

Norway made a formal “objection” to the whaling moratorium, which is allowed under the provisions of the IWC treaty, so they can technically continue whaling legally.  Similarly, when Iceland rejoined the IWC in 2002 after a ten-year absence, it lodged a reservation to the moratorium, an unprecedented action that the United States and a number of other nations opposed.  (But Japan, Norway, and Japan’s client nations voted to allow Iceland to join with this questionable objection in place.)

Iceland has been hunting minke whales and the endangered fin whale in the north Atlantic under its reservation since 2006 and must be stopped.   When a secret “deal” with Japan seemed to be in the making over the past three years (with the support, unfortunately, of the Obama Administration, for renewed commercial whaling in Japan’s waters), Iceland unilaterally increased their whale quotas to unsustainable levels, allowing their whaling fleet to kill up to 150 fin whales (as well as 100 minke whales) each year through 2013.  The IWC Scientific Committee has calculated that a sustainable catch limits for the fin whale population Iceland is targeting would be lower than 46.

Furthermore, Iceland is exporting whale meat, oil, and blubber in increasing quantities to Japan and Norway and violating an international ban on trade in whale products by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), by exporting whale products to the Faroe Islands, Latvia and Belarus.

A number of US environmental and animal welfare organizations, including Earth Island Institute, have filed a petition with the Obama Administration to certify Iceland under the US “Pelly Amendment”, which would allow President Obama to impose economic sanctions on Iceland for undermining international conservation agreements, including the treaty undergirding the IWC.  (Former President George W. Bush originally certified Iceland under the Pelly Amendment, but no sanctions were imposed.)


What You Can Do:

Send an e-mail today to: and, urging President Obama to (1) re-certify Iceland under the Pelly Amendment, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, (2) enforce the certification with economic sanctions against Iceland until they stop killing whales.


Thank you for your support for the whales!



Fin Whale Photo by US National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Southwest Science Center.

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Tell President Obama to Sanction Iceland for Illegal Whaling