Animal Advocates Rally in Portland, ME to Protest Whaling to Iceland’s President

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Portland, Maine—Members of the public and representatives of animal protection and conservation organizations are rallying Friday in Harbor View Memorial Park in Portland, Maine, to protest Iceland’s expanding commercial whaling program, and its links to fish and other Icelandic products imported into the United States through Portland, Maine.

Their message, “don’t buy from whalers,” coincides with Maine International Trade Day 2013 and a visit by Icelandic President Grímsson, who will deliver a keynote address at a downtown trade conference and tour Portland’s newly renovated International Marine Terminal port facilities across from Harbor View Memorial Park.

The rally from 3–6 p.m. is intended to remind President Grímsson and conference attendees that Iceland kills whales—including endangered fin whales, exports whale products in defiance of international treaties and that products from Iceland that are “tainted with the blood of whales” are not welcome in the United States.

Says Susan Millward, executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute, “President Grímsson wants to talk about trade, and so do we. We want to talk about the almost 3,000 tonnes of whale meat that Iceland has exported to Japan in recent years in defiance of international law. We want to talk about how magnificent, endangered fin whales killed in Iceland end up being sold as dog treats in Japan.”

Bill Rossiter, president of Cetacean Society International, adds “American whale watchers need to know that Icelandic whalers have killed whales as they were viewed by whale watchers. Despite whale watching being a major source of tourism income for Iceland, the whalers even fought recent efforts to keep them away from whale watches! American consumers want to know where their fish is coming from. They need to know that much of the fish imported from Iceland through Portland is tainted with the blood of whales—caught by fishing companies controlled by Iceland’s whaling industry.”

Allan Thornton, President of the Environmental Investigation Agency, says “In 1983 Iceland agreed to abide by the IWC's ban on commercial whaling. In exchange, Iceland was allowed to kill fin whales (and other species) during a three year phase-out of whaling. Iceland reneged on its commitment and killed fin whales after the deal had closed. Then and now, Iceland has shown bad faith, and failed to live up to its environmental commitments. Iceland can use whales to create jobs and revenue through whale watching, which generates good will for more tourism. Kristjan Loftsson's plans for the illegal killing of giant fin whales to sell for use as pet food in Japan is a shocking and ruthless waste, which must not be allowed.”

Media contact:
Susan Millward, susan@awionline.org +1-202-640-9606

Editor’s notes
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling in 1986.  Iceland, a major commercial whaling nation, left the IWC in 1991 in protest over the decision, but rejoined in 2001 with a controversial reservation exempting it from the ban. It resumed so-called scientific whaling in 2003 and commercial whaling under its reservation in 2006. Since 2003, it has killed 496 minke whales and 280 endangered fin whales, and exported over 2,800 metric tons of whale products to Japan. Although Hvalur hf, Iceland’s fin whaling company, did not hunt fin whales in 2011 and 2012, the head of the company announced recently that it will kill up to 184 of these whales this summer, starting in June. Fin whales are categorized as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Commerce certified under the “Pelly Amendment” that Iceland’s whaling undermined the effectiveness of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. president Obama concurred and issued directives intended to compel Iceland to stop whaling and cease trade in whale products. With fin whaling set to resume in June, the presidential directives have not achieved this objective and non-governmental organizations representing tens of millions of U.S. citizens are demanding that the federal government increase and expand efforts to force Iceland to cease commercial whaling and trade in whale products.

HB Grandi, part of the Hvalur group, is Iceland’s major fishing company and exports fish products to the United States through Portland, Maine. NGOs are calling on the Obama administration to impose targeted trade sanctions against Hvalur Group companies under the Pelly Certification.

Footage available on request.

For more information on Maine International Trade Day, see http://www.mitc.com/programs/details.asp?ProgramID=84

The Animal Welfare Institute (www.awionline.org) is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and other important animal protection news.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is an NGO that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals. www.eia-global.org

Since 1974 CSI's mission has been to minimize cetacean killing and captures, to maximize human activities that neither harm nor harass, and to enhance public awareness of and concern for cetaceans and the marine environment.