Swedes say supporting Iceland whaling was a mistake
STOCKHOLM - Sweden said its representatives made an unfortunate mistake when they voted for Iceland\'s membership in the International Whaling Commission earlier this week, a move allowing Iceland to restart whaling.
Sweden\'s Environment Ministry said the \"Yes\" vote - which tipped the international whaling organisation in favour of Iceland - was due to a bureaucratic hurdle and said the country still opposed whaling and would try to take back the decision.
\"It was a mistake. The outcome is not what we wanted, and that is most unfortunate,\" Environment Ministry spokeswoman Anette Tornqvist told Reuters.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry said the Swedish delegation only supported Iceland\'s membership because of the whaling organisation\'s complicated voting procedure. But he said that the vote was in accordance with guidance from Stockholm.
\"The effect of the vote is only that Iceland is now part of the treaty and a member of the whaling commission,\" said Carl Henrik Ehrenkrona, head of the Foreign Ministry\'s legal department.
\"It doesn\'t mean that Sweden or any other state has opened up to Iceland catching whales.\"
Iceland walked out of the IWC 10 years ago in anger over the worldwide moratorium on whale hunting.
Since then, it has made attempts to rejoin but has not been willing to recognise the moratorium. It succeeded in gaining readmission on Monday after an extremely tight vote ending 19-18.
Several key players, such as Britain and the United States, opposed Iceland\'s membership.
The decision prompted harsh criticism from environmental group Greenpeace which said it \"defied all common sense\".
Iceland\'s fisheries minister said on Tuesday the country plans to resume whaling for scientific purposes after 2006. In line with its membership in the commission it could also resume commercial hunting, like neighbouring Norway has done.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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