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Victory for Whales: U.S. Certifies that Ongoing Whaling Activities in Iceland Undermine Wildlife Conservation Treaty

Feb 10, 2014

In a positive and crucial development for whale conservation on February 6, 2014, the U.S. Department of the Interior officially certified to President Obama, under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman's Protective Act of 1967, that Iceland's ongoing international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). President Obama now has 60 days to determine what actions the U.S. will take in response to the certification.

Over the past several years, WSPA, along with a number of international animal welfare and conservation groups, has called on President Obama to impose economic sanctions against Iceland due to its continued whaling activities in defiance of a ban on international commercial trade of whale products. 

WSPA also organized a first-ever joint meeting of the Whales Need Us Coalition and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on this important issue. More than 36,000 WSPA supporters previously contacted President Obama, asking him to impose sanctions against Iceland and the U.S. has previously pursued diplomatic measures towards Iceland in working to protect whales.

“We applaud U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for taking this important action to protect whales, and we encourage President Obama to further demonstrate U.S. leadership in whale conservation by taking the next step and imposing trade sanctions against Iceland,” said Anne Lieberman, Executive Director, WSPA USA. “This is a critical time to send a clear message that whaling is no longer tolerated.”

WSPA suggests that any U.S. trade restrictions on Iceland should focus on the products of Icelandic companies that support or engage in whaling or the trade, import, or export of whale meat.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell noted that Iceland’s ongoing whaling activities undermined worldwide efforts to conserve whale species, which were nearly driven to extinction by commercial whaling only 25 years ago. According to the Pelly Amendment, the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Interior can formally identify – or “certify” – a country if it is “diminishing the effectiveness” of global conservation treaties. Once certified, the President can impose sanctions, which would prohibit the importation into the U.S. of certain products from the offending country.

Help protect whales

We strongly believe that the slaughter of whales is inhumane, unnecessary and unsustainable – and it needs to end.

Take action TODAY by contacting President Obama and urging him to protect whales and enforce sanctions on Iceland. 

We will continue to keep you updated on this important issue – please continue to follow us here at for more updates!

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