NOAA 2004-065
Contact: Scott Smullen

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Keeps Japan Certified

U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans today announced he certified to President Bush that Icelandic nationals are hunting whales in a manner that diminishes the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) conservation program. Evans kept Japan certified for its annual whale harvest.

“Iceland began this hunt despite the appeals by a majority of IWC member countries and scientists to do otherwise,” said Evans. “The lethal research whaling conducted by both Iceland and Japan is unnecessary for the management of whales, and we urge them to use non-lethal research methods. We will use all diplomatic channels to request both countries to end their respective lethal research whaling activities.”

President Bush has notified Congress of his decision to implement the non-trade actions recommended by Secretary Evans. These actions include directing U.S. delegations attending bilateral meetings with Iceland regarding whaling issues to raise U.S. concerns and to seek ways to halt these actions, and directing the Departments of Commerce and State to keep these situations under close review and to continue to work through bilateral relationships to urge Iceland to cease their lethal scientific research whaling activities. The President, however, also noted the United States’ appreciation for Iceland’s constructive work with the United States at the IWC on a variety of whaling issues.

The Pelly Amendment to the U.S. Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 requires the Secretary of Commerce to certify to the President that “nationals of a foreign country... are conducting fishing operations in a manner or under circumstances which diminish the effectiveness of an international fishery conservation program.” In this case, the management of whale stocks by the IWC is being compromised by the actions of Iceland and Japan. The United States and a majority of IWC member countries have stressed that lethal research on whales is not necessary. The scientific data claimed to be necessary can be obtained by non-lethal means.

Iceland began a lethal research whaling program in August 2003. Earlier, in June 2003, a majority of IWC member countries and a majority of scientists on IWC Scientific Committee criticized the need for this hunt.

The Commission passed a resolution that urged Iceland to reconsider the program. Despite these efforts, Iceland began a lethal research hunt. The United States joined 22 other nations in a formal protest that asked Iceland to halt the program immediately. Iceland did not, and its whaling program harvested 36 minke whales in 2003, a reduction from Iceland’s original proposal to take take 250 minke, fin, and sei whales.

On June 1, 2004, Iceland announced that it was authorizing a hunt of 25 minke whales in 2004. While the United States opposes lethal research, it is pleased to see that Iceland has limited its program to taking only one species and fewer than originally planned.

Japan was most recently certified in 2000 for the expansion of its lethal research whaling program in the North Pacific. While that Pelly certification remains active, the United States has remained concerned about changes in the scale and nature of Japan’s North Pacific whaling activities. Japan added Bryde’s and sperm whales to its research harvest in 2000, and sei whales in 2002.

Sei, Bryde’s, minke, and sperm whales are protected under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. Sei and sperm whales are on the U.S. endangered species list.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events, and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.