Two slaughtered  fin whales on the coast of Iceland.

In a rare, but much appreciated, act of political courage, the United States criticized Iceland’s whaling activities, condemning them as “unsustainable.” This is a breath of fresh air to anti-whaling activists worldwide who’ve become used to whaling nations getting a pass by the world’s governments for their murderous activities. Could a criticism of Japan be next – a much more powerful nation that kills many more whales than Iceland, all under the lie of research? Risking the anger of a rich ally takes an ethical backbone. Let’s hope Uncle Sam stands up straight on this one! –Global Animal

November 25, 2010

REYKJAVIK (AFP) – The United States on Thursday warned Iceland that it was deeply concerned by its whaling activities, which threatened the sustainability of the mammal in the North Atlantic, the government said.

“The United States is deeply concerned by and strongly opposed to Iceland’s increasing commercial harvest of whales, in particular endangered fin whales,” US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said in a letter to Icelandic Fishing Minister Jon Bjarnason.

“We are concerned that Iceland conducts its fin whale harvests outside of International Whaling Commission control and at levels two or three times higher than that body’s scientific recommendations. Such whaling is simply not sustainable.”

This year Iceland has caught 148 fin whales, after catching 125 in 2009. Prior to increasing its quotas in 2008, Iceland caught less than 10 each year, the letter said.

Icelandic authorities plan to protest against the US criticism, saying there are sufficient whales in its waters to increase the quota to up to 200 each year.

There are between 20,000 and 70,000 whales in the North Atlantic, according to varying estimates.

Iceland and Norway are the only two countries in the world which commercially catch whales. Japan says its whaling is for scientific purposes, although the meat is sold commercially.

Related story:

Dec. 1, 2010 – Harpoons & Hookers: 27 Nations Gather At Japan’s Pro-Whaling Conference




  1. The US gets criticized non-stop by other countries. If a person or country sees something believed to be wrong, there is a moral obligation to stand up for what is right. It is ok to be critical of other countries even if your own is not perfect.

  2. Everyone raises good points here. To Klaus’ point – yes, as a government body, the USA has lost significant capital of moral integrity and its reputation is understandably beleaguered on the world stage,

    The country is still recovering from eight years under the Bush regime. But behind that administration’s arrogance, incompetence, deceit and destruction, Americans as individuals still fought vigorously for the protection of animals – and continue to do so. People campaigned with all their might to stop the administration’s raping of the environment, “ordinary” citizens flooded New Orleans to retrieve thousands of stranded animals, and Americans quietly went about the business of being compassionate to animals in innumerable ways.

    For all its faults, the USA isn’t a finger-pointing nation. When the United States is critical of another nation’s activities, it definitely isn’t to the exclusion of being critical of what goes on within its own borders. A robust documentary industry, with films like Food, Inc, have opened the doors to the horrors behind factory farming and many other issues of animal welfare and conservation. There is a groundswell of Americans who are critical of the treatment of animals in the United States and are working extremely hard to change things.

    Still the idea that the earth is a collection of independent blocks, neatly partitioned by invisible lines, is a dangerous myth. What happens in the US matters in Australia, what happens in the Antarctic waters matters in Canada, and what happens in Iceland matters in America.

    The egos of nationalism aside, the reality is that we are all responsible for the planet on a global level.

    • Well said Scribblechick!! There’s a lot to be done for the sustainability of the planet and the indefensibles. End of the day everyone should regard themselves as citizens of this planet and not just their countries. All this fingerpointing is childish. Just do and live by example. I just despise the way the media portrays itself but I guess that’s what they’re there for most of the time.

  3. Red Lobster is one of the largest buyers/ supporters of Canadian seafood. I don’t see any action by the US government to condemn that. What about factory farming feeding the fatties of the US? Do the citizens know anything about the land cleared for producing feed for the mass produced animals along with the cruelty imposed? Do they know what’s behind their “super-size”? Being an American and seeing uneducated comments is highly embarrassing.

    Pointing the finger at someone else is easier than looking at one’s own backyard.

    • Hi Klaus,
      I don’t see any uneducated comments so not sure what you are talking about. Many Americans are just as upset over what is happening in our own backyard. Does that mean we should turn a blind eye on what is happening in other parts of the world? NO. I for one am able to support and have active involvement in more than one cause at the same time and imagine I am not alone. Additionally, if there is a sustainability concern, it really is everyone’s job to be aware and fight for improvement. To push another animal towards extinction can have a catastrophic domino effect upon the world.

      • ” U.S. Finally Criticizes A Country For Whaling “…………the headline!!

        Condemning an entire country is uncalled for as it totally disregards those working for a change. And the fact is not many are. It is sickening to see countries who feel as if they sit on moral horses and have the right to criticize other countries. Why can’t the countries “just do” instead of giving themselves heightened importance.

        ” Go USA, it’s time we take a stand. This country stands for morales and scruples.” by Anita Murray Cook (a comment from before)

        You tell me if that’s right or wrong.

  4. It’s about time Governments’ like the USA started criticising these countries for a practice that isn’t just unsustainable as such but what is an inherently cruel and unnecessary act upon animals that are intelligent and have emotions, families and social complexity just as we do, although different at the same time.

  5. Go USA, it’s time we take a stand. This country stands for morales and scruples. It’s time for us to stand for our sea creatures. They can not do it for themselves. Isn’t that what America stands for? And to Pete Bethune, I would go to jail for them too. Thank you for all you do.