Iceland, Norway and Japan Walk Out of IWC Meeting Skip to content

Iceland, Norway and Japan Walk Out of IWC Meeting

By Iceland Review

The representatives of Iceland, Norway and Japan walked out of a meeting at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) yesterday along with representatives of other states who approve of whaling.


A slaughtered fin whale. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Tómas H. Heidar, Iceland’s main representative on the IWC, told that the purpose of this move was to prevent the meeting from being legally constituted; a voting on Argentina and Brazil’s suggestion on founding a whale reserve in the South Atlantic Ocean was about to start.

For IWC meetings to be legally constituted in the case of a proposal like this, representatives of at least half of all IWC members states have to be present and to be approved, 75 percent of those present have to vote in favor of it.

Heidar said he believes the proposal would not have been approved but the pro-whaling member states still wanted to prevent the voting as it might increase the split between processions and cause disputes within the IWC.

“In the past months we have worked towards reaching a compromise between the followers and opponents of whaling within the IWC and the atmosphere has improved significantly,” Heidar stated.

He added the foundation of the aforementioned whale reserve was part of the draft of a package solution which was submitted at the IWC’s general meeting last year but the South American states wouldn’t accept any package solutions and weren’t prepared to show any flexibility in regards to whaling.

Heidar said it is absurd for the states to now submit a proposal on only the whale reserve and even more absurd that they have attempted to push it through on a vote.

He pointed out that Iceland and other states that approve whaling are overall against the establishment of reserves in areas where whaling is banned, unless the need for reserves has been scientifically proven, adding no scientific evidence has been submitted to support a whale reserve in the South Atlantic.

The 63rd annual meeting of the IWC, which opened in Jersey on Monday, ended yesterday.

A new report jointly produced by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WCDS), entitled “Renegade Whaling: Iceland’s Creation of an Endangered Species Trade”, “exposes how Iceland is defying international treaties to hunt endangered fin whales in a bid to create a new consumer market in Japan,” a press release from the WCDS and EIA states.

EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry said: “We found alarming evidence of increased distribution and sale of Icelandic-caught fin whales, fueled by artificially low prices of the Icelandic whale meat and the special status of fin whales as the most desirable whale product in Japan, as well as the absence of fin whales from Japan’s own hunts.”

“If the IWC is not to become the dysfunctional body that the whaling countries work tirelessly to bring about, the Commission must assert its authority and publicly condemn Iceland’s escalating commercial whaling and whale exports,” WDCS anti-whaling campaign leader Sue Fisher stated.

According to the press release, since 2008, Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf., run by Kristján Loftsson, has slaughtered 273 fin whales and exported more than 1,200 tons of whale meat and blubber worth an estimated USD 17 million (EUR 12 million, ISK 2 billion) to Japan and has a further 2,500 tons in storage.

The press release states that new EIA undercover investigations have revealed for the first time the identity of the Japanese importing company as Misaka Shoji (Misaka Trading).

Japan’s scientific whaling company Kyodo Senpaku is also believed to be involved in distributing Icelandic fin whale products, the anti-whaling campaigners report.

Loftsson announced in May that his company will probably not hunt any fin whales this season because of the impact the natural catastrophe in Japan earlier this year had on the local market.

Click here to read more about that story.


Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!