348. Telegram From the Embassy in Iceland to the Departments of State and Commerce1

1331. Subject: Outcome of Weekend Talks on Icelandic Whaling. Ref: State 194706.2

1. (U) Following two days of lively but friendly discussions the US and Icelandic sides produced the document in para two. Signed copies will be exchanged on Wednesday morning June 22.3

2. (C) Letter to H.E. Mr. Steingrimur Hermannsson Minister for Foreign Affairs Reykjavik.

Begin text:

Dear Mr. Minister,

I have the honor to refer to discussions held in Reykjavik on June 18 and 19, 1988 between representatives of the Governments of Iceland and the United States to discuss the Icelandic Program for Whale Research in the context of the recent meetings of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its Scientific Committee, the bilateral discussions held in Ottawa on September 9, 1987,4 and discussions held in Washington on February 8 and 9, 1988.5

[Page 995]

My government understands that the results of those discussions are as follows:

The representatives of Iceland made the following statements about Iceland’s research program for 1988:

1. Up to 68 fin whales will be taken in 1988. This reduced number results from the fact that the research program will begin at a later date in 1988 than in previous years.

2. Up to 10 sei whales will be taken in 1988. The reduced take of sei whales will be for the purpose of research on cytogenetics, as recommended by the Scientific Committee, and to continue energetics research.

3. Iceland will increase its krill sampling and will optimize the timing and methodology of the sampling in order to allow more effective correlation of information on food and energetics of whales with information on the biology of euphasiids on the whaling grounds.

4. Iceland will carry out the five specific scientific recommendations concerning the Icelandic research program adopted by the scientific committee at its San Diego meeting in May 1988.

The representatives of Iceland also stated that Iceland would address the following matters in its report to the IWC in 1989, pursuant to IWC/40/32.

1. The reasons why research on the ecological role of whales constitutes a reasonable and necessary contribution to the comprehensive assessment or a critical research need in its own right.

2. Contributions that the data gathered in 1986 and 1987 have made to estimating the ages of recruitment, the ages at sexual maturity, the pregnancy rates or other population parameters of fin and sei whales. Analysis of trends that have been revealed by comparison of these recent results with earlier data from commercial catches.

3. The inferences that can be drawn regarding the stock identities of fin and sei whales in the North Atlantic from the electrophoretic and biochemical analyses undertaken by Icelandic scientists.

Based on the foregoing understanding of the Icelandic research program for 1988, and the fact that Iceland would address the matters enumerated above, the United States agreed that the Icelandic program would not diminish the effectiveness of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling or its conservation program.

I should be grateful if you would confirm that this is also the understanding of the Government of Iceland.


L. Nicholas Ruwe

American Ambassador

End text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Dumping; Arctic; Whaling; Antarctic; Scientific Research, 1976–1987, Lot 94D419, Whales: Other Norway, Iceland, USSR, etc. Confidential; Priority.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 347.
  3. In telegram 1355 from Reykjavik, June 22, the Embassy reported that the letters had been exchanged and transmitted the text of Hermannsson’s letter. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D880843–0664)
  4. See Document 339.
  5. See footnote 7, Document 346.