The United States and Iceland are heading for serious dispute after President Barack Obama announced a series of measures against Iceland over its policy to continue hunting whales.
But the measures appear to stop of short of banning Icelandic fish or seafood products which a number of environmental groups have been demanding. Exports of Icelandic fish into North America are on the increase.
The US Government had announced earlier in the year it was invoking the Pelly Amendment which certifies Iceland for undermining the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species through its continuation of whale hunting and trade in meat..
The measures against the Reykjavik government which came into effect last week include directing US agencies to raise concerns about Iceland’s commercial whaling and trade in fin whale meat and products in any meetings with Icelandic officials and in appropriate CITES venues. They require US officials to re-examine bilateral cooperation projects with Iceland in light of the fin whaling and trade. Senior US Government officials must also evaluate any visits to Iceland in light of Iceland’s resumption of fin whaling.
Washington says it will continue to monitor the companies that engage in whaling and trade in fin whale and all relevant agencies are required to report back to the President in six months on the status of whaling in that country and continue to explore options for additional measures.
Iceland, which has faced many protests in the past, has always maintained that its whaling policy is measured and sustainable, and part of the country's culture which is not always fully understood by other countries which may have a softer lifestyle and outlook.
Sigurdur Ingi Jóhannsson, Iceland's Fisheries and Agriculture Minister, said in his website at the weekend: "It is disappointing that the U.S. government is taking these measures against Iceland. Again, the fishing is legal under international agreements. The scientific basis of them is solid and there is little doubt that fisheries are sustainable and our international trade of whale products is in accordance with international obligations.