Iceland whaling protest halted – Fishupdate.com

Iceland whaling protest halted Published:  27 July, 2007

The Farley Mowat has stopped in Galapagos, instead of heading to Iceland to protest against its whaling activities

THE Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has pulled back from a bid to try to halt Iceland’s controversial commercial whaling operations.

The organisation had been planning to send its ship, Farley Mowat, north to Iceland to intervene and disrupt whaling activities and focus the world’s attention on Iceland’s planned killing of 60 piked (Minke) and nine fin whales.

But Paul Watson, leader of the environmental organisation said that despite his announcement in May, he would not now be sending any vessels this summer. He explained the reason for the change of mind was because his efforts were needed in Galapagos – where they had stopped on the way from Australia to Iceland – to prevent a large amount of iron dust from being discarded in the ocean.

Captain Watson concluded there was more need for Sea Shepherd in the Galapagos, since there has been no news of Icelanders killing fin whales recently. He said his organisation might pay Iceland a visit next summer instead.

Two months ago he declared: “We have an ongoing commitment to end whaling and we will not rest until this goal has been accomplished. We cannot and we must not allow them to destroy these whales, and therefore, we have no alternative but to put our lives and our ship on the line for the defense of the whales of the North Atlantic.

The Society, which took on the Japanese last year, said that after a 20 year absence Iceland had returned to whaling in flagrant violation of the International Whaling Commission’s moratorium on the commercial hunting of whales.

Meanwhile, the Iceland Marine Research Institute has just finished a count of fin whales as part of a co-operative project with Norway, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Canada and Russia. The result is that the fin whale stock appears to be at a record high, claims the Institute.

This thought to be is the most extensive count of whale stocks that has ever been undertaken and a special emphasis has been put on determining the size of the stock.

According to whale expert, Gísli A. Víkingsson, this stock appears to be the largest since fin whales were first counted.

“That supports our cause as a whaling nation,” Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries, Einar K. Gudfinnsson, said this week.

He added: “The whale stocks are very large and continue to increase in size, which has a negative influence on the size on the stocks of other marine species.These results show without a doubt that there is a biological pre-requisite for whaling.

“But whaling is like any other industry; its profits decide whether it will continue. Therefore, whaling will automatically discontinue if the meat doesn’t sell.”

A growing number of people in Iceland have already expressed their disapproval at the move, although a majority of the population still support commercial whaling. And, fish processing companies are worried that a high profile protest could impact on fish sales.

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