Norway and Iceland Getting Special Treatment Over Whaling By The European Union Says The HSC

VANCOUVER, JUNE 19, 2006 – Through a series of complex trade agreements with the European Union (EU), Norway and Iceland, which are not member nations, enjoy many of the same benefits for their own peoples and economies without incurring the same obligations of true EU member countries – including a commitment to end whaling, says The Humane Society of Canada (HSC).

“One of the non-negotiable requirements of becoming a full EU member nation is an undertaking to cease involvement in any whaling operations. The European Union has now grown to include 25 countries and over 456 million people, with dozens more countries lined up to join; and every single one of them is willing to agree not to kill whales,” observes Michael O’Sullivan, HSC Chairman & CEO, who holds dual Canadian and Irish citizenship and is at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) talks being held in the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis.

“In our view, the time for the rest of the European Union to demand hard answers from Norway and Iceland, two of the most prosperous countries on earth, is long overdue. What makes them deserve such special and preferential treatment? Why should they still be allowed to slaughter whales in defiance of EU law and an international whaling ban?” asks O’Sullivan.

The Humane Society of Canada is grateful to the European Union for its assistance on a wide range of animal protection and environmental issues in Canada and around the world. Having worked in the European Union on such issues, O’Sullivan says he understands the reluctance of European civil servants and politicians to ask hard questions of Norway and Iceland, however, that is not the point he argues.

He says that allowing such a “cafeteria style” relationship by Norway and Iceland, where these two nations are allowed to pick and chose those items they like and take legal reservations out against those items they don’t, is patently unfair and prejudicial to everyone else who plays by the rules. In other words, Norway and Iceland don’t deserve a free ride on the whaling issue.

“The hundreds of millions of citizens of the European member nations, both present and future, have made their position clear on the issue of slaughtering whales and dolphins – they adamantly oppose it. And frankly, in our opinion, it’s time that the EU politicians and civil servants start listening to their own people and representing their interests, which is what they’re paid to do, instead of worrying about whether or not they might offend their counterparts in Norway and Iceland,” he says.

However, the animal charity’s views are also tempered by realism and experience. The Humane Society of Canada suggests that the only practical way to effect meaningful change is for the citizens of current and future member nations of the European Union to send a clear signal that they expect more from their own governments and demand answers from their fellow citizens of Norway and Iceland: “In our view, it’s simply not going to happen any other way. Clear thinking women, men and children are often ahead of their governments on such important issues of social concern, and they remain the last, best hope to save the whales”, he concludes.

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=56132698753

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

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Background on the IWC

A reported 70 nations have now signed the international whaling agreement and there is strong evidence that Japan has bought the votes of small developing nations. Japan and its allies are expected to use these votes to support secret ballots and other mechanisms in those dealing with environmental threats to whales, animal welfare, whale sanctuaries, whale watching and slaughter of whales and dolphins. In open defiance of the twenty year old ban on whaling, Japan, Norway, Iceland and other countries have slaughtered over 27,000 whales; and in the opinion of The Humane Society of Canada these countries are environmental outlaws.

The Humane Society of Canada supports ECO which is published at the whaling talks by a coalition of non-governmental organizations and can be found here.

The animal charity is also a member of the Global Whale Alliance fighting to end the slaughter of whales.