WHALES ON THE NET
REYKJAVIK, 24 August, 2007 (Reuters) - Nearly a year after ending its ban on commercial whaling, Iceland will not issue new whale-hunting quotas until market demand increases and it gets an export license from Japan.
Iceland's fisheries minister, Einar K. Guofinnsson, told Reuters this week it made no sense to issue new quotas when the present quota period expires on August 31 if the market for whale meat was not strong enough.
"The whaling industry, like any other industry, has to obey the market. If there is no profitability there is no foundation for resuming with the killing of whales," he said.
Iceland announced last year it would allow up to 30 minke whales and 9 fin whales to be hunted, controversially ending a ban in place since 1986.
But they have killed just seven minke whales and seven fin whales because of slack demand for whale meat and products.
"I will not issue a new quota until the market conditions for whale meat improve and permission to export whale products to Japan is secured," said Guofinnsson.
"There is no reason to continue commercial whaling if there is no demand for the product."
Buyers of whale products demand thorough testing to ensure food safety. In addition, without an export agreement with Japan, a huge source of buyers is taken out of the equation.
By Audbjorg Olafsdottir
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