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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09REYKJAVIK122
2009-07-09 16:53:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Reykjavik
Cable title:  

ICELANDIC WHALING IN FULL SWING WITH 24 FIN WHALES HUNTED

Tags:   SENV  EFIS  KSCA  PREL  IWC  ETRD  IC 
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VZCZCXRO9876
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHRK #0122 1901653
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091653Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4113
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0041
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0022
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0001
						UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000122 

STATE FOR OES/OA
COMMERCE FOR NMFS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EFIS KSCA PREL IWC ETRD IC
SUBJECT: ICELANDIC WHALING IN FULL SWING WITH 24 FIN WHALES HUNTED

UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000122

STATE FOR OES/OA
COMMERCE FOR NMFS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EFIS KSCA PREL IWC ETRD IC
SUBJECT: ICELANDIC WHALING IN FULL SWING WITH 24 FIN WHALES HUNTED


1. (SBU) Icelandic whalers are taking full advantage of the expanded
whaling quotas issued by the former Fisheries Minister Einar K.
Gudfinsson and have killed 24 fin whales and 20 minkes to date.
(Note: The last time fins were hunted in Iceland was in 2006 when
seven were killed. About 40 minkes are hunted each year. End Note.)
Gudfinsson had issued a regulation upon his departure from office
in January that whaling quotas for the next five years will be
directly linked to the recommendations from the Icelandic Marine
Research Institute (MRI). Both of Gudfinsson's successors said they
would let the regulation stand for at least this year. On June 5,
MRI published a report recommending that 200 fin whales and 200
minke whales can be hunted sustainably this year. MRI told Emboff
that last year's minke recommendation of 100 whales was increased
this year because the stock is considered to be close to
pre-exploitation levels.


2. (SBU) Staff members of Hvalur, hf, which is the only company in
Iceland with the capability to hunt large whales, told Emboff on
July 3 that whaling is providing jobs for 150 to 200 people.
However, they admitted they are keeping their fingers crossed that
there is a market for the meat and said, otherwise "this is a doomed
operation." Since minke meat is the only whale meat consumed and
sold in Iceland, the fin meat must be exported to another market,
such as Japan. In May, Greenpeace and a local environmental group
held a press conference which featured a recorded conversation with
the Japanese importer of the Icelandic whale meat who stated he
would not be importing any meat from Iceland this year. In late
June, the Japanese Charge d'Affaires told Emboff that he didn't
believe there was a market for the fin meat in Japan.


3. (SBU) Charge d'Affaires met with the Minister of Fisheries on
July 9 and strongly protested the renewed whaling, particularly the
large number of fin whales hunted. CDA reiterated that whaling is
an impediment to agricultural and fish exports to the U.S,
particularly to environmentally conscious outlets like Whole Foods
grocery store, and underscored the Japanese CDA's belief that there
is no market for Icelandic whale in Japan. The Minister responded
that this was a sovereignty issue and that Iceland is a coastal
nation that is using all its marine resources sustainably. He noted
his political party is generally against whaling and the government
is redoing the country's whaling laws, which date from 1947. He
also said the government has tasked the University of Iceland
Economic Institute to create a cost and benefits report on whaling,
which the Minister expects to use to develop a new whaling policy at
the end of this whaling season. Regarding the reported absence of a
whale meat market overseas, the Minister said that marketing was a
private commercial issue which did not concern the government.


4. (SBU) Comment: The apparent lack of a market for fin whale meat
does not seem to be affecting the hunt. The Icelandic government,
despite being composed of two political parties opposed to whaling,
is preoccupied with other issues related to the financial crisis and
possible European Union membership. At a minimum, it will take a
strong multi-national response to affect any change, and even then
it seems unlikely the whaling will stop this season. End Comment.





KLOPFENSTEIN