Vanishing Whales

Illegal Hunting Continues to Decimate Species

Whales are still being killed, despite an international ban on commercial whaling. According to Greenpeace, many whale species are down to around 1 percent of their estimated former abundance before the days of commercial whaling.

Fourteen whaling nations came together in 1946 to form the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to manage whale stocks and recommend hunting limits where appropriate, but the continuing decline of populations forced the IWC to call for an outright ban on all commercial whaling in 1986. Yet Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to defy the ban, each harvesting hundreds of whales every year.

Several green groups, including the Natural Resources Development Council (NRDC), recently petitioned the U.S. government to take action against Iceland under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Protective Act. “The Amendment allows the president to impose trade sanctions against a country that is ‘diminishing the effectiveness’ of a conservation agreement—in Iceland’s case, the whaling moratorium and another international treaty that prohibits trade in endangered species,” writes the NRDC. The petition names several Icelandic firms—including major seafood companies with ties to the country’s whaling industry—as potential targets for trade sanctions.

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