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Viewing cable 09REYKJAVIK37, ICELANDIC MINISTER CONFIRMS COMMERCIAL WHALING DECISION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09REYKJAVIK37 2009-02-20 15:03 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXRO8185
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRK #0037 0511545
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201545Z FEB 09 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3989
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0039
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0020
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0061
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000037 
 
C O R R E C T E D COPY (SUBJECT) 
 
STATE FOR OES LISA PHELPS AND MAGGIE HAYES AND EUR/NB 
USDOC FOR NMFS CHERI MCCARTY 
TOKYO FOR BART COBBS 
COPENHAGEN FOR ESTH HUB 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV EFIS KSCA PREL IWC ETRD IC
SUBJECT: ICELANDIC MINISTER CONFIRMS COMMERCIAL WHALING DECISION 
STANDS 
 
REFS: A) Reykjavik 36 B) Reykjavik 25 
 
1. (U) This is an action request, please see paragraph 4. 
 
2. (SBU) Minister of Fisheries Steingrimur J. SigfuQon announced on 
February 18 that his predecessor's controversial increase in whaling 
quotas for fin and minke whales will stand at least for this year 
(reftels).  Ministry of Fisheries Head of the International Office 
and Iceland's Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission 
(IWC) Stefan Asmundsson confirmed for Econoff that no actual quotas 
have been issued yet; quotas are devised by the annual scientific 
recommendations of the Icelandic Marine Research Institute (MRI) on 
sustainability and that information is not expected until late 
spring.  However, Asmundsson said that one could make an educated 
guess on the numbers of the quota based on advice from previous 
years.  (Note: Using the older MRI information, this would mean a 
quota of 150 fin whales and 100 minke whales. End Note.)  Asmundsson 
said the whalers do not have authority to start whaling until the 
quota is issued, but are probably making their preparations using 
the same educated guesses. 
 
3. (SBU) The Director of Iceland's Nature Conservation Association 
(an anti-whaling NGO), Arni Finsson told Econoff that he appreciated 
the strong language in the letter presented by the Ambassador and 
other representatives of the international community, but stressed 
that more was needed (Ref A).  He cited the 26 signatories to the 
letter denouncing Iceland's 2006 decision to continue whaling and 
related fin and minke whale quotas.  Finsson said that the potential 
quota of 150 fins and 100 minkes this year was worse than the 2006 
quota of nine fins and 30 minkes, and the response should reflect 
that increase.  He mentioned that the British supermarket chain 
Waitrose had sent a letter to the Icelandic authorities this week 
highlighting that their customers are not pro-whaling.  Finsson said 
more responses like that would help pressure the Icelandic 
authorities.  He said more European Union members and IWC members 
from South America should be approached about signing any joint 
international response. 
 
4. (SBU) Action Request and Comment: Post believes a further 
response is necessary following the reaffirmation of the 
objectionable quota.  We request U.S. authorities issue a public 
statement deploring the decision as soon as possible.  We also 
recommend that we either seek additional signatures to the letter 
delivered last week in Reykjavik, or production of another one with 
at least the same number of countries signed up as did in 2006. 
 
 
VAN VOORST