When it comes to whaling, Iceland is an international outlaw. Years of global negotiations and declarations have failed utterly to end its illegal slaughter of whales. It's time to send Iceland a message it can't ignore: trade sanctions.
We can make it happen if hundreds of thousands of us speak out now.
Here's why: last December, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other groups filed a petition to stop Iceland's rogue whaling. In response, the U.S. Commerce Secretary recently declared that Iceland is defying the international ban on commercial whaling. That declaration started the clock ticking on a 60-day period during which President Obama must decide whether or not to impose trade sanctions on Iceland.
The President should assert global leadership and impose tough sanctions, making Iceland feel real consequences at long last for its mass killing of whales.
Iceland has proven that it will thumb its nose at anything less -- and will go right on slaughtering whales for profit. In 2004, the United States denounced Iceland in the same manner -- but failed to impose sanctions -- and Iceland proceeded to ramp up its awful slaughter.
Since 2006, that nation has killed more than 200 minke whales and 280 endangered fin whales. The fin whale is the second largest whale species on earth, weighing up to 80 tons. Over the past two years alone, Iceland has exported more than 1,200 tons of whale meat, blubber and oil -- worth some $17 million -- to Japan, and has made additional shipments to Norway, Latvia and Belarus.
Iceland is not only flouting the ban on whaling, it is depleting whale populations at an alarming rate. It's practically begging to be sanctioned.
President Obama should begin by targeting imports from those Icelandic seafood companies directly tied to the whaling industry.
We can hardly assume that presidential action is a sure thing. In fact, the U.S. has never before imposed sanctions on another nation for whaling. That's why it's so important that President Obama feel a groundswell of public support if he is to take this next historic step.
We can be sure that Iceland will not end the abhorrent practice of whaling until it is forced to do so. It's time to make our voices heard inside the White House.
Tell President Obama to impose sanctions now.
Editor's note: In 2008, Brosnan narrated a video for NRDC about how the military's use of sonar poses a deadly threat to whales. Watch it here.
Photo: Corbis for NRDC