BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union and United States delivered a strongly worded complaint to Iceland on Monday condemning an increase in whaling and urging it to observe an international ban on the commercial hunting of whales.
In a joint move with other nations, including Brazil, Mexico and Australia, the European Commission said its ambassador in Reykjavik delivered a note - a diplomatic "demarche" - saying Iceland was harming efforts to save endangered species and urged it to stop trading whale meat, oil and other material.
"We ... call upon Iceland to respect the IWC’s (International Whaling Commission) global moratorium and end its commercial whaling and international trade in whale products," read the text, also signed by Israel and New Zealand.
Iceland says its policy on whaling has a scientific basis and reflects effective management of marine resources.
The North Atlantic island, home to 325,000 people, applied to join the EU five years ago after its economy was devastated by the global banking crisis but EU leaders do not expect to expand membership of the 28-nation bloc in the next few years.
While not threatening government sanctions against Iceland, the EU envoy warned that whaling could damage its economy, through boycotts that were supported by many voters:
"Public opinion in the countries that are Iceland's main trading partners is very much against the practice of whaling," the Commission said.
"This is evidenced by the public pressure put on companies around the world to boycott Icelandic goods, not to mention the pressure that voters and various organizations put on their politicians, encouraging them to send Iceland an increasingly stronger message."
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Larry King)