Iceland's decision to resume whaling condemned

Updated: 2006-10-18 09:37

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The government and conservationists in New Zealand, a leading anti-whaling nation, condemned Iceland's decision to resume commercial killing of whales in defiance of a worldwide ban on hunting whales for meat.

This handout picture released by Greenpeace in January 2006 shows a Japanese whaling fleet injuring and then killing a whale in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica. Iceland has said it would resume commercial whaling, making it only the second country to do so after Norway, in a decision that is expected to spark protests from around the world. [AFP]

"New Zealand will be making it very clear to the Icelandic government that we utterly reject their country's right to resume commercial whaling" Conservation Minister Chris Carter said.

Metiria Turei, conservation spokeswoman for New Zealand's Green Party, said Iceland's decision to kill fin whales is especially worrying because the species is endangered.

Jo McVeigh of the environmental group Greenpeace also condemned the announcement by Iceland's Fisheries Minister Einar Kristinn Gudfinnsson, who told parliament his ministry would begin on Wednesday issuing licenses to whaling ships to hunt fin and minke whales.

"There's no good reason for Iceland to have done this," McVeigh said. "There's no market for the meat and it especially doesn't make sense with the rise in the whale-watch industry that Iceland has seen."

Icelanders have been hunting whales since the days of the Vikings, but stopped commercial whaling in 1985, and scientific whaling in 1989, under an international moratorium on commercial hunts.

In 2003, Iceland resumed the killing of whales in the name of scientific testing, a move condemned by environmental groups and some nations, including the United States and Britain.