The letter also directs members of federal agencies to take actions like raising official objections, encouraging Iceland to foster activities like whale watching, and monitoring the activities of Icelandic companies that engage in commercial whaling and trade in whale parts.
While conservationists are happy that the problem is being addressed, they are still calling on Obama for harsher official trade sanctions -- not just diplomatic ones. Says Taryn Kiekow Heimer of the Natural Resource Defense Council:
Unfortunately, President Obama failed to impose more effective measures through targeted trade sanctions. NRDC and other animal welfare and conservation groups have been calling on the Obama Administration to impose targeted economic sanctions since 2010 and have identified several Icelandic companies as potential targets – including major seafood industry players that are directly tied to Iceland's whaling industry.
Iceland killed 35 minke whales and 134 endangered fin whales in 2013 alone -- most of which are exported to the Japanese market -- despite an international moratorium on whaling. Interior Secretary Jewell praised the president's move in a release: