Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson stated yesterday in response to a formal diplomatic protest against commercial whaling in Iceland that the nations involved in the protest should take a critical look at their own issues, such as pollution and human rights.
“We believe that it is our right to hunt whales. There appears to be a market for whale products, although I’m not involved in that,” Gunnar told ruv.is. “We have demonstrated through the years that we practice sustainable fishing and sustainable use of our resources. Whaling is no different.”
Gunnar added that there is nothing new about the most recent whaling protest. “However, we know that opinions on the subject differ in other countries, especially because foreign politicians cannot withstand pressure from campaign groups.”
“We will carry on with whaling, to the best of my knowledge. We haven’t made a decision on anything else,” the minister concluded.
A formal diplomatic protest, including the EU, its 28 member states and the governments of the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, Monaco and New-Zealand, was delivered to the Icelandic government on Monday. Their “strong opposition” to commercial whaling in Iceland, in particular the hunting of fin whales, was declared.
Chair of NGO Iceland Natural Conservation Association Árni Finnsson claimed on RÚV’s radio program Morgunútvarpið this morning that commercial whaling is senseless, criticizing Gunnar Bragi and Minister of Fisheries Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, who stated that foreign nations must be convinced of the sensibility of Iceland’s whaling.
“Of the more than 2,000 tons of whale meat exported this year, 40 percent had been cleared by customs at the end of July. So it’s not particularly successful,” Árni maintained. “Gunnar Bragi and Sigurður Ingi have the authority to ban whaling. They don’t have to give in to the will of Kristján Loftsson,” he added.
Kristján is the CEO of fin whaling company Hvalur.