Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Kids blogs
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling

Mindful conservation – why we need a new respect for nature

'We should look at whales and dolphins as the indigenous people of the seas -...
tins of whale meat

How Japan’s whaling industry is trying to convince people to eat whales

Japan's hunters kill hundreds of whales every year despite the fact that hardly anyone in...
Common dolphins © Christopher Swann

Did you know dolphins have personalities?

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
Microplastics on beach

Blue whales and the menace of microplastics – how we’ll solve this problem

Our love affair with plastic began in the 1950s when it revolutionised manufacturing. But what...
A dolphin called Arnie with his shell.

Dolphins catch fish using giant shell tools

In Shark Bay, Australia, two groups of dolphins have figured out how to use tools...
Common dolphins at surface

Did you know that dolphins have unique personalities?

We all have personalities, and between the work Christmas party and your family get-together, perhaps...
Leaping harbour porpoise

The power of harbour porpoise poo

We know we need to save the whale to save the world. Now we are...
Holly. Image: Miray Campbell

Meet Holly, she’s an incredible orca leader

Let me tell you the story of an awe-inspiring orca with a fascinating family story...

Icelandic whalers bank on tourist ignorance – don't be fooled!

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales opened in early June and as many as 264 whales could be killed this season, including a permitted carry-over of unused quota from last year.  Yet, as of today, the Fiskistofa website (Iceland’s Fisheries Directorate) which – perhaps tellingly – has not been updated since June 13th, indicates that only 4 whales have been taken so far. Four whales is four too many of course, but that figure is far lower than at this time last year, when around two dozen whales had been killed.  So what is going on?

Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, CEO of minke whaling company IP-Utgerd Ltd, has been quick to suggest that there are fewer whales around than previous years – yet oddly, he made exactly the same claim last year as well. 

Our view is that, since minke whale numbers in the region have been steadily declining over the past decade or so – with the reasons behind this decline still poorly understood – the precautionary principle should apply and further quotas should be denied.

Gunnar Jonsson’s apparent anxiety at the slow start to the season appears to be due to his belief that he must cater to massive tourist demand. Whilst it is true that tourist numbers are rising steadily, with 1.8 million last year and even larger numbers expected this year, it is also true that education and outreach campaigns by WDC and other NGOs has succeeded in substantially reducing the percentage of tourists willing to sample whale meat.

Our message that tourist demand is largely driving the hunts- under the mistaken belief that whale meat is a popular and traditional local dish –  has seen the percentage of tourists eating whale meat plummet from 40% in 2009, to 12% (2016 Gallup poll commissioned by IFAW).

Our message has always been clear: please visit Iceland to enjoy the wonderful scenery and support the brave and outspoken whale watch industry, which provides an economically-successful bulwark against the whaling and which, of course, depends on tourists for its survival. But please don’t be tempted to become an unwitting ‘patsy’ for the whalers, who bank on tourist ignorance when it comes to ordering in restaurants and supermarkets, to enable them to continue their cruel trade.

In addition to widely circulating our latest flyer with the aim of reaching tourists before they even arrive in Iceland, we are also working with other NGOs to lobby airlines serving Iceland not to promote whale meat via articles or advertisements in their in-flight magazines. We’re also asking the airlines to warn passengers that it is illegal in most parts of the world to attempt to bring whale products back home with them, following a spate of seizures at airports in Europe and elsewhere. 

If you are considering visiting Iceland, please check out our partner, Off The Map Travel

About Vanessa Williams-Grey

Policy manager - Stop Whaling and Responsible Whale Watching