A Pivotal Moment for Commercial Whaling




Since 1986, there has been an internationally agreed upon moratorium on commercial whaling. This ban, imposed by the intergovernmental International Whaling Commission (IWC) has been hugely important to stabilizing whale populations worldwide. But a few countries have elected to ignore, or find ways around the ban.

Now, the U.S. Government is considering imposing sanctions against Iceland under legislation called the “Pelly Amendment.” The sanctions could be invoked if Iceland does not stop killing whales for its commercial whaling program.

What is the U.S. Pelly Amendment?
The U.S. Pelly Amendment connects the whale world to international trade law. It can be invoked to place restrictions on importing products from countries which violate international fishery or endangered or threatened species programs.

Iceland and commercial whaling
Over the life of the moratorium, Iceland has continued whaling commercially in increasingly troubling ways.

? Since 2004 Iceland has killed just over 600 whales, ignoring diplomatic efforts to stop commercial whaling.
? In 2009, Iceland increased its annual whaling quotas, including for the endangered fin whale.
? In March 2011, Iceland exported nearly 300 tons of whale products, its largest single shipment since the IWC ban took effect in 1986.

A turning point
President Obama now has 60 days to decide if the U.S. will impose trade sanctions against Iceland.

WWF, along with several other conservation organizations, is strongly urging the President to pursue sanctions as Iceland has a long history of side-stepping international laws that prohibit commercial whaling and international trade.

President Obama announced several diplomatic measures to address the continued killing whales of whales.  WWF is disappointed that the President did not choose to impose economic sanctions against Iceland, but we remain encouraged that the Administration will prioritize the issue in all interactions with the Icelandic government.

Learn more
Read the letter WWF and other conservation organizations wrote to the President prior to the September 15, 2011 decision