Minister enthusiastic over SP's proposed action against Icelandic whaling

26 October 2006

Minister enthusiastic over SP's proposed action against Icelandic whaling

Minister of Agriculture Cees Veerman agrees with the SP that a tourist boycott would be an excellent means of putting pressure on Iceland in protest at the country's resumption of whaling. A boycott was called for yesterday by SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen.

Mr Veerman said that social pressure is often more effective than any measures which a minister has at his disposal. According to Ms Van Velzen, the minister's statements have been extremely supportive.

Iceland began killing whales this week and many more are set to die in a resumption of commercial whaling after a break of twenty years. The country has shown itself prepared to defy an international moratorium on the hunting of whales.

During a parliamentary debate on the issue, the minister said that he could not understand Iceland's decision to begin hunting a seriously endangered species like the fin whale – and not only from the perspective of animal welfare, but on economic grounds. The profit from a few dead whales could hardly compensate for the earnings available from tourists who travel to Iceland specifically to see these splendid creatures.

Together with representatives of other European countries, Mr Veerman has sent Iceland an official warning. Ms Van Velzen welcomed this move, but said that she "would rather see the minister adopting an uncompromising stance and letting his disapproval be known in every way possible. To date his ministry has kept worryingly quiet."

The minister unfortunately saw no reason to carpet the Icelandic ambassador, as called for by the SP. "But we've thought of a solution to this," Van Velzen said. "We're calling on everyone to add their signatures to an extremely angry letter to the Icelandic Fisheries Minister." Foreign readers are asked to write to their own governments, Members of Congress, MPs, TDs or other elected representatives, as well as to the Icelandic Minister, who can be reached at einarg@althingi.is. A suggested text for this letter can be found at the end of the story Protest against whaling: Boycott Icelandic tourism

Most whale species remain endangered and a ban on their capture continues to be absolutely necessary. The moratorium has already come under severe pressure, which makes it all the more unacceptable that Iceland is choosing to ignore the rules. International agreements are increasingly being breached and the Netherlands should not be prepared simply to let this happen.

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