US Imposes Diplomatic Sanctions on Iceland to End Whale Hunting - Falls Short of Trade Sanctions

April 10 2014

We are disappointed to hear President Obama’s verdict that the United States will not impose targeted trade sanctions to address Iceland’s illegal commercial whaling. Although the sanctions were just on Iceland, it would have had a monumental global effect for whales worldwide.

President Obama sent a message to Congress agreeing that Iceland’s actions put the survival of the fin whale in jeopardy. He also acknowledged that Iceland’s actions undermine multilateral efforts to ensure greater worldwide protection for whales.  

The decision comes two and a half years after the President first ordered diplomatic measures against Iceland for engaging in commercial whaling in violation of a worldwide commercial ban.

Pursuant to a US law known as the Pelly Amendment, President Obama could have imposed targeted economic sanctions against Hvalur (Iceland’s primary fin whaling company), following the February 2014 certification issued by US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, declaring that Iceland undermined the effectiveness of CITES ( the international wildlife conservation treaty) and its prohibition on international commercial trade in whale products. 

While the President fell short of calling for sanctions against Hvalur and its associated seafood companies such as HB Grandi, we believe along with our partners at the Whales Need US coalition, that such sanctions are warranted. We call on the United States to ensure that the other measures issued by the President are fully implemented and we will continue to hold the United States accountable for following through with all of the measures set out in the President’s message to Congress. 

Elizabeth Hogan, US oceans and wildlife campaign manager for the World Animal Protection, said,

“This is a missed opportunity from President Obama to send a strong statement that hunting endangered whales cannot be tolerated, and it stands in stark contrast to the  verdict from the International Court of Justice.  We are disappointed that the Obama Administration would pass up this chance to renew US commitment to preserving the welfare and health of all whale species with targeted sanctions against companies that violate international law.”

What you can do to support whale welfare

Thank you to all our supporters who sent a message to President Obama urging him to impose economic sanctions on Iceland. 

As the President has elected not to impose targeted trade sanctions against specific Iceland companies linked to whaling at this time, pressure from consumers for "whaling-free" Icelandic seafood products is now more important than ever. 

You can continue to help Iceland’s whales by making sure that when you buy seafood, you ask your local supermarket or restaurant to verify that their seafood does not come from a source linked to Icelandic whaling. Refer them to DontBuyFromIcelandicWhalers.com if they have questions.

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