Iceland rejoins International Whaling Commission

Iceland has rejoined the International Whaling Commission, nine years after quitting the organisation in protest, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Even as it came back into the fold of the IWC, the government reiterated its opposition to the group’s 1986 global ban on commercial whaling.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government feels it can best influence the whaling debate from within the IWC, which is hosting an international convention on whaling regulations in London next month.

“There are signs within the IWC that support is increasing for sustainable whaling in some form,” it said.

The island nation of 250,000 people grudgingly stopped its hunts in 1989, three years after the IWC moratorium was enacted to protect the giant sea mammals.

However, in 1992, the same year Norway announced plans to resume its own commercial whale hunts, Iceland quit the whaling commission, claiming the organis! ation set up to manage whaling had become one devoted only to preventing all hunts.

That view was re-expressed by the Foreign Ministry. It called the IWC “a non-whaling commission rather than a whaling commission. Regrettably, this development has not been undone yet.”

Iceland’s parliament passed a resolution in 1999 to resume hunting, saying the country had the right to use all marine resources within its territorial waters.

But Iceland has yet to restart the hunts, mostly due to fears that it could adversely affect the country’s fish exports. Several supermarket chains in Europe and North America refused to sell Icelandic fish when it was a whaling nation.

Norway is the only country that hunts whales for profit. It is not bound by the ban because commission rules allow its members to reject its rulings.

– Sapa-AP