Viewing cable 08REYKJAVIK105, ICELAND RESUMES COMMERCIAL WHALING AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE
Every cable message consists of three parts:
- The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
- The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
- The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08REYKJAVIK105.
|08REYKJAVIK105||2008-06-10 11:11||2011-01-13 05:05||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Reykjavik|
VZCZCXRO5370 RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHRK #0105/01 1621148 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 101148Z JUN 08 FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3675 INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0030
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 REYKJAVIK 000105 STATE FOR OES/OA JOHN FIELD AND EUR/NB USDOC FOR NMFS CHERI MCCARTY TOKYO FOR BART COBBS COPENHAGEN FOR ESTH HUB SENSITIVE SIPDIS E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: SENV EFIS KSCA PREL IWC ETRD IC SUBJECT: ICELAND RESUMES COMMERCIAL WHALING AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN FIN WHALE MEAT REFS: A) Reykjavik 57 B) 06 Reykjavik 388 ¶1. (SBU) Summary: On May 19, the Icelandic Minister of Fisheries Einar Gudfinsson (Independence Party) quietly issued a quota for commercially hunting 40 minke whales for the domestic market. The Icelandic Foreign Minister, along with the other ministers from the coalition Social Democratic party, publicly responded that they did not agree with the quota. Further, although they acknowledged the decision was within Gudfinsson's power, the Social Democratic ministers felt the quota sacrificed greater interests for lesser ones. On June 2, the Icelandic media reported that 60 tons of fin whale meat (from the seven whales caught in fall 2006) had been sent to Japan. The local environmental NGO believes the export was not a commercial deal but a political ploy to pressure the government for more fin whale quota. Gudfinsson said opponents of whaling would have to admit whaling is justified now that a market has been established and he did not preclude the issuance of more quotas. End Summary. ¶2. (U) On May 19, the Head of the International Office at the Ministry of Fisheries and Iceland's Commissioner to the International Whale Commission (IWC) Stefan Asmundsson telephoned Econoff to say that Minister of Fisheries Einar Gudfinsson would quietly issue a quota for 40 minke whales to satisfy the domestic market for whale meat. Asmundsson said that this quota was based on the Marine Research Institute's 2007 recommendation that 400 minke whales could be harvested without impact on the stock. By the end of the day, Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, who is not in Gudfinsson's Independence Party, but rather the coalition Social Democratic Alliance (SDA) party, posted a response on the SDA website. It said that the six SDA ministers (out of the twelve in the Cabinet) opposed Gudfinsson's decision and, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to Iceland's United Nations Security Council bid, argued that it sacrificed long term gains for short ones. ¶3. (U) Two weeks later, on June 2, the Icelandic media reported that whaling firm Hvalur hf. had exported 60 tons of Icelandic fin whale meat to Japan. This meat came from the seven fins hunted in fall 2006 when commercial whaling was restarted and was presumably kept in cold storage since. Gudfinnsson, in comments to the media, noted that whaling opponents had always argued that there was no reason to hunt whales because the products would not sell; now those parties would have to admit whaling is justified as a market has been established. He added that he did not preclude the issuance of more quotas. In response, Gisladottir said it was pointless to say anything specific about the sale and referenced her earlier statement regarding the minke quota. ¶4. (SBU) The IWC Commissioner Asmundsson told Econoff on June 6 that this was a legal trade and purely a private commercial deal with which the Ministry had no involvement. He said that even if the Ministry knew of the trade beforehand "it would not have been proper to reveal that the export permits had been applied for." Asmundsson said that when Iceland decided to resume commercial whaling in October 2006, the ability to trade internationally in whale products was resumed at the same time. Iceland has a reservation against fin whales being listed on CITES Appendix 1, and post attempted to get copies of the CITES certificates for export. After several offices denied that they had responsibility for such a certificate, we located copies of the certificates at the Directorate of Fisheries within the Ministry of Fisheries. These certificates were filed in mid-May. ¶5. (SBU) On June 7, the owner of Hvalur hf., and only fin whale hunter in Iceland, Kristjan Loftsson told the Icelandic State media that he had not received the necessary permits from Japanese authorities to sell the meat, but that the meat was already in Japan. Loftsson said nothing was unusual and that customs and importation procedures take time. The local environmental NGO Iceland Nature Conservation Association (INCA) told Econoff that the company that received the shipment in Japan was "resurrected" by the wealthy Loftsson just for this deal. INCA believes this transaction was not a commercial deal but rather a political ploy by Loftsson to put pressure on the Icelandic government to issue Loftsson a further quota. ¶6. (U) As of June 9, five of the 40 minke whales covered by the new quota have been killed and fresh whale meat is available in Icelandic grocery stores. No new whaling quotas have been issued beyond the minke quota. According to Asmundsson, the 2006 quota for nine fin whales, of which seven were caught, has expired. Asmundsson would not tell Econoff whether there was a petition for a new quota for fin whales. REYKJAVIK 00000105 002 OF 002 ¶7. (SBU) Comment: The opposition to the minke quota by half of the Cabinet was a different response from when commercial whaling was restarted in fall 2006. The Social Democratic Alliance, then in opposition, publicly defended Iceland's right to whale and only expressed reservations about possible reactions from Iceland's friends. Today, SDA's criticism of a fellow Cabinet minister indicates that there is concern with international reaction to whaling and its effect on Iceland's UN Security Council bid. Whether new commercial quotas will be issued for fin whales or more minkes will undoubtedly be determined by the level of international reaction to recent events and whether an export market has been truly established in Japan. VAN VOORST