Iceland Defends Hunting Endangered Whales After International Backlash

<p>Jerry Kirkhart / <a class="checked-link" href="">Flickr</a></p>
<p>Jerry Kirkhart / <a class="checked-link" href="">Flickr</a></p>

Earlier this week, 35 countries joined forces to issue a formal diplomatic protest, known as a démarche, to Iceland's government over its controversial whaling program. The protest took issue with the hunting of minke whales and endangered fin whales, declaring "strong opposition" against the practice.

The document read:

"The EU, its 28 Member States and the governments of the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Mexico and Monaco, today declared their opposition to the fact that the Icelandic government still permits commercial whaling, in particular the hunting of fin whales and the subsequent trading of fin whale products."

Now, Iceland has issued its retort. The country's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, said in a statement:

"We believe that it is our right to hunt whales. There appears to be a market for whale products, although I'm not involved in that. We have demonstrated through the years that we practice sustainable fishing and sustainable use of our resources. Whaling is no different."

Sveinsson also said that Iceland "will carry on with whaling," to the best of his knowledge.

The statement is in sharp defiance of the pleas of the countries which sent the démarche begging Iceland to "respect the IWC's global moratorium and end its commercial whaling and international trade in whale products."

Iceland set a quota of 154 fin whales and 154 minke whales this year, despite reports that the meat was piling up in freezers after last season's hunt due to lack of demand.

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