Australians Try to Dissuade Iceland from Whaling
Australia's former Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell has condemned Iceland's decision to pursue 'scientific' whaling saying it is nothing more than wanton slaughter.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has reported the Iceland Government had issued three Special Permits to take minke whales for the purpose of 'scientific' research this year.
Senator Campbell said that Iceland's intention to kill 39 whales for science was particularly disappointing given recent world opinion against this practice.
He has conveyed his concerns in very clear terms to both the Minister for Fisheries and the Minister for the Environment in Iceland and received the following response:
Source: Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries
Iceland's Response to Australia's Charges Regarding Minke Whales Wednesday August 24, 2005, 12:50 pm ET
REYKJAVIK, Iceland, Aug. 24 /PRNewswire
The following is an answer from the Icelandic Minister of Fisheries to the letter from Ian Campbell the Australian Minister of the Environment and Heritage where the Australian Government condemns the proposed killing of up to 39 minke whales in 2005 under the guise of scientific research. The text of the letter from Arni M. Mathiesen, Icelandic Minister of Fisheries, to Ian Campbell follows:
With reference to your letter of 20 July 2005 regarding Iceland's issue of Special Permits for the year 2005 I would hereby like to indicate subsequent facts.
Firstly I see it as necessary to point out that in accordance to Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling any member of the IWC has the undisputed right to conduct whaling for the purposes of scientific research. Iceland's whaling is therefore undisputedly legal.
According to the most recent estimate, agreed by the Scientific Committee of the IWC, around 44 thousand minke whales reside in Icelandic waters during the summer. When discussing the Icelandic research proposal, the Scientific Committee unanimously agreed that the proposed catches were highly unlikely to have any negative effect on the population.
Scientific research of whales is of great importance for Iceland where it constitutes essential part of our ecological approach to the conservation and management of living marine resources. As you may know whales constitute a large component of the marine ecosystem in Icelandic waters and from a scientific point of view it is highly undesirable to leave them out of research programs on ecological interaction in the marine environment. In the long term, research on whales is necessary to ensure sustainable fisheries and sustainable use of living marine resources in general. Leaving whales out of the picture may simply lead to false conclusions and poor management.
Most of the questions posed by the Icelandic research programme can not be sufficiently addressed without taking whales. These are for example detailed information on diet composition and analysis of biological parameters (age, reproduction etc.) and monitoring of health condition (pollutant levels, energetic condition and veterinary dissection). Where as most of the proposed non-lethal methods have not been scientifically validated then such validation is among the research plan's objectives. Thus the Icelandic research programme may contribute significantly to the development of non-lethal methods.
The methods used for hunting the minke whales are the best available from a humane perspective. No high-speed chases are involved and the animals do not realise that they are being hunted. Statistics from Norway, where the same methods are used, show that around 80% of the animals die instantaneously upon being hit. An overwhelming majority of the remaining 20% become immediately unconscious and die within minutes. The methods used ensure that the catches are done in the quickest and most humane way possible and that suffering is minimised.
In this context I would like to remind you that Resolution (2001-2) on Whale Killing Methods not only encourages governments to submit information regarding whaling but also comparative data from the killing of other large mammals. In relation to this the helicopter shootings of thousands of Australian Feral Camels and the killing of millions of Australian kangaroos annually are of special interest. In light of your interest in the issue of killing methods I assume that Australia will submit relevant data on these activities to the forthcoming workshop on whale killing methods and associated welfare issues at IWC58.