New Zealand welcomed Iceland's decision to wind back its commercial whaling quota, saying Tuesday that the move reflects an increasing lack of demand for whale meat.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand welcomed Iceland's decision to wind back its commercial whaling quota, saying Tuesday that the move reflects an increasing lack of demand for whale meat.
New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter said Iceland has decided to not issue new whale-hunting quotas until Japan grants it an export license and demand increases.
Iceland lifted its ban on commercial whaling nearly a year ago to allow up to 30 minke and nine fin whales to be hunted for the first time since 1986. But its whalers have killed only seven minke whales and seven fin whales since then because of a lack of demand.
According to staunch anti-whaling advocate Carter, Icelandic Fisheries Minister Einar Guofinnsson said there was no sense in issuing new whaling quotas on Aug. 31 if the market for whale meat is not strong enough.
Iceland's decision shows demand for whale meat is not as strong as pro-whaling nations claim, Carter said.
"Japan is believed to have 40,000 tones (44,000 short tons) of whale meat in storage in spite of a move to serve it in lunches in Japanese schools and using it in pet food," he said in a statement.
It "appears obvious" there is almost no market for whale meat, Carter noted.
"Perhaps Iceland's official recognition that there is no market for this meat could finally encourage Japan to stop its expanded 'scientific' whaling program and leave Antarctic whales in peace," he said.
Under it's scientific whaling program Japan hunts more than 1,000 minke, fin and the rarer humpback whales each year in the southern ocean close to Antarctica. Two years ago it doubled the number of minke and fin whales that could be killed under the program.
Carter led New Zealand's delegation to International Whaling Commission meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, in May where he joined other conservation-minded countries to strongly condemn Japanese whaling.
Source: Associated Press