Nearly one year after Iceland resumed commercial whaling, the country has decided to not issue new whale hunting quotas until market demand increases and gets an export license from Japan.
“Iceland’s fisheries minister, Einar K. Guofinnsson, told Reuters this week it made no sense to issue new quotas when the present quota period expires on August 31 if the market for whale meat was not strong enough.
“The whaling industry, like any other industry, has to obey the market. If there is no profitability there is no foundation for resuming with the killing of whales,” he said.”
Iceland has only killed 7 minke whales and 7 fin whales in the commercial hunt out of a quota of 30 minkes and 9 fin whales due to low market demand.
Stefan Asmundsson, an official at the Ministry of Fisheries , stated that negotiations with Japan were ongoing.
“We are talking to the Japanese government but so far we have not reached a conclusion on how best to secure the health and quality of the products,” he said. “Hopefully this will clear up soon as the uncertainty is not good for anybody.”
According to Icelandic authorities much is about food safety and Greenpeace stated on its website “ that whalers have not made the whale test results public.”
Whalers are very unhappy with the Governments decision to not issue out new whaling quotas and the Icelancic Minke Whalers Association’s Head made the comment : “ How are we supposed to find markets if we don’t have a product? “.
It must also be pointed out that Iceland will continue with its scientific whaling program.
This unwillingness from Japan’s side to not buy North Atlanic whales , probably due to contamination, makes one wonder if this is one of the reasons why Japan , according to a recent statement from officials in the African state, San Tome, wants to open up commercial whaling there?
“Japan has presented proposals to Sao Tome’s fisheries authorities aimed to open the archipelago’s territorial waters to Japanese commercial whaling,” officials said.
Sao Tome’s fisheries’ minister, Cristina Dias, said Wednesday that she considered the Japanese proposals “interesting”, noting that before Sao Tome gives approval for this type of fishing it would carry out economic and environmental studies and also sign up to an international convention on whaling.”
“Besides discussing financial compensation for whale fishing in its waters, Sao Tome would also discuss job creation prospects related to the whaling proposals with the Japanese authorities,” added the minister
“Japan made US$ 6.9 million available to Sao Tome less than a month ago for fisheries development as part of Tokyo’s bilateral cooperation with the islands.”
Anti whaling nations often accuse Japan of “vote-buying” and taking advantage of the vulnerability of small developing states to consolidate its position within the International Whaling Commission ( IWC).