US Commerce Secretary Calls for Sanctions on Iceland Over Whaling

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 7:05 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is urging President Barack Obama to impose sanctions against Iceland, accusing the country of ignoring a global ban on whaling.

Locke says in a letter to the president Wednesday that Iceland's harvest of whales and export of endangered fin whale meat undermines worldwide efforts to protect the mammals. He calls it critical that the Icelandic government take immediate action to comply with the moratorium.

The commerce secretary recommends President Obama impose diplomatic sanctions on Iceland, including canceling high-level visits and reviewing cooperation on Arctic projects.

A 1986 treaty suspended commercial whaling. But Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to hunt whales despite the moratorium.

Iceland's fisheries minister says he is surprised at Locke's call for sanctions. He says Icelandic whaling has a strong scientific basis and is sustainable. He also calls Iceland's trade in whale products legal under international treaties.