(AFP) – Jan 9, 2009
REYKJAVIK (AFP) — Forty-two organisations, unions and municipalities signed an advertisement published Friday urging Iceland's government to allow whaling again this year, while whalers said any quota should be dramatically expanded.
Iceland, which had observed an international moratorium on commercial whaling for 16 years until a controversial October 2006 decision to resume the practice, allowed the culling of 40 whales last year and has not yet taken a decision on whether hunting will go ahead this year.
The "start whaling" petition, published in the Frettabladid daily Friday, called on the government in Reykjavik to ensure that hunting was allowed when the season begins in June.
"I am certain that whaling will be permitted (this summer)," said Fridrik Thor Arngrimsson, the head of the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners, which signed the petition.
"What I am uncertain of is how much we will be allowed to catch," he told AFP.
Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, who heads a federation of minke whale hunters, told Frettabladid his organisation expected the ministry to authorise a quota of at least 200 and perhaps as many as 400 minke whales this season.
"Last year we only hunted for the Icelandic market," he said, pointing out that the island had in 2008 decided to begin exporting whale meat to Japan.
"What we are thinking now is to sell 90 percent of the meat to Japan," he said.
In recent weeks, Icelandic businesses, media and public officials have been the targets of a campaign by German environmentalists threatening to boycott travel to Iceland if the country resumes whaling this year.
Iceland was the second country after Norway to authorise commercial whaling. Japan officially hunts whales for scientific purposes, although the whale meat is sold for consumption.
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