Iceland defended its whaling policy Tuesday, after it was criticized by 35 countries for allowing the hunting of fin and minke whales.


“We are hunting two whale species and are doing it in clear accordance with the hunting policy of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), contrary to what the letter says,” Fisheries Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson told public broadcaster RUV.

The 35 signatories of a protest letter on Monday criticized “Iceland’s continuing and increased commercial harvest of whales, particularly fin whales, and to its ongoing international trade in whale products.”

According to the letter, Iceland had killed more than 120 fin whales annually since 2009, although it had harvested only seven per year in the two previous decades.

Johannsson said Iceland’s overall fishing policy was “sustainable and responsible” and based on the principle “where nature gets the benefit of the doubt.”

“That is not the case with the nations that are criticising us, and that is strange,” he said in the interview.

The letter – signed by the United States, all 28 EU member states, Brazil, Australia, Israel and New Zealand – was delivered as a four-day meeting of the IWC opened in Slovenia.

Iceland has circumvented a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, despite international protests.



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