Expert argues for Iceland whales

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An expert from Bangor University’s newly established Law School has been invited to Iceland to present the legal basis of the anti-whaling stance in a country which has recently announced its resumption of commercial whaling.

Iceland made the announcement this October, to the dismay of conservation groups, announcing that it would keep its catches within sustainable limits.

Law lecturer Richard Caddell, who will speak in Iceland on Friday 10 November, specialises in international law, with a particular interest the legal protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) and the strengths and deficiencies in the international framework to regulate these species.

Richard will be providing the opposing view at a Symposium on the Legal Aspects of Whaling organised by the Law of the Sea Institute of Iceland, and taking place in the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Reykjavik .

“It should be quite a lively debate,” says Richard Caddell.

“Stefan Asmudsson, Iceland ‘s Commissioner at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), will explain Iceland ‘s position on whaling.

“Following this, I will a present the main legal basis for the opposition to commercial whaling. This is primarily based on the difficulties inherent in monitoring whale stocks to arrive at realistic quotas – a problem that has led to serial overexploitation in the past and on the basis that the IWC itself has over the past thirty years moved away from a blinkered hunting approach towards becoming a body that addresses the wider conservation needs of cetaceans.

“Given the fact that the IWC still has not finalised its mechanism for quota-setting for when the moratorium on whaling is eventually lifted (the ban is only a temporary measure, although there is no set date for it to be lifted at present), it would be at best imprudent to recommence commercial whaling at this juncture.

“In any event, the current view of the exploitation of whale resources in the overwhelming majority of countries is that we should move away from directed hunting towards non-consumptive uses, such as whale watching expeditions, that generate more income and do not require the reduction of already depleted stocks, a position that was recognised by the IWC in 2003 with the establishment of a Conservation Committee to specifically address conservation issues.

“Likewise, there is little market for whale meat at present, with current large stockpiles of whale meat in warehouses sufficient to meet any needs, without having to kill further animals,” said Richard Caddell.

Iceland ceased whaling in 1989 under an agreement with the International Whaling Commission, but left that organisation in 1992 and rejoined in 2002 with a reservation on the moratorium on whaling. Other Anti-whaling members of the IWC may set a legal challenge to the current situation.