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Viewing cable 09REYKJAVIK122, ICELANDIC WHALING IN FULL SWING WITH 24 FIN WHALES HUNTED

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09REYKJAVIK122 2009-07-09 16:04 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
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 
 
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