TAKE ACTION FOR CETACEANS!
Stop Whaling in Iceland
UPDATED February 2, 2024
On June 20, 2023, Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced a temporary whaling suspension through August 31, 2023. The Minister stated,"The conditions of the Act on Animal Welfare are mandatory. This activity cannot continue in the future if the authorities and the license holders can not ensure the fulfillment of the welfare requirements." [Source]
On August 31, 2023, Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced that whaling will be allowed to resume on September 1, 2023. [Source]
TAKE ACTION! #IcelandWithoutWhaling
Sample letter: Click the buttons to download the .DOCX file or .PDF file. Please feel free to reference our sample letter when writing your email. Please make sure to edit/add your regional Ambassador's name - and feel free to personalize the message further before sending. For more information, please scroll down and read "Additional information - Reasons why whaling should end."
On August 31, 2023, the Pirate Party introduced a bill to ban whaling and protect whales in Iceland has been referred to the Industrial Affairs Committee. The proposed bill has the backing of the Pirate Party, the People’s Party, the Social Democrats and the Liberal Reform Party. Pirate Party MP Andres Ingi Jónsson said the bill would bring whales under the protection of Iceland’s wildlife laws. The bill proposes making whaling illegal by repealing the Act on whaling, no. 26/1949, and bringing whales under the law on the protection, preservation and hunting of wild birds and wild mammals, no. 64/1994." [Source]
February 2, 2024, Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir is facing political pressure by pro-whaling parliament. Apparently unless granting a new five-year permit to Kristjan Loftsson owner of the last whaling company "Hvalur hf" the pro-whaling faction threatened a motion of no confidence (later withdrawn) against Minister Svavarsdóttir the week of January 29, 2024.
Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir is currently acting as MAST minister in Svandís’ stead during medical leave. Please send emails to Prime Minister in support of the proposed law to ban whaling permanently.
Please consider key points below. Rather than copy & paste, your polite personalized message in brief would be the most impactful way of expressing support of the bill to ban whaling. Additional Information - Reasons why whaling should end are provided towards bottom of this page. Be sure to include your name & date.
•Majority of Icelandic public is against whaling
• Whaling doesn’t have a tradition in Icelandic culture
• Economic and business relations are in danger
• Living whales provide significant ongoing revenue to Iceland’s whale watching companies and associated industries.
• Ecotourism (whale watching) has proven far more profitable as an ongoing and sustainable resource supporting Iceland’s economy.
• Influential figures in the multi-billion-dollar film industry have pledged to boycott Iceland until whaling is banned. This looming economic loss threatens to strike a severe blow to Iceland’s economy.
• Whales play a vital role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems.
• Whales are important to climate systems as they sequester carbon and stimulate the production of oxygen
• Iceland could be a leader when it comes to protecting marine regions and species
• This summer (2023) a temporary suspension of whaling was imposed due to welfare concerns according to Icelandic Act on Animal Welfare.
• The Pirate Party tabled a bill in Alþingi, Iceland’s parliament, that would legislate the end to commercial whaling in the country.
I respectfully ask not to renew the whaling license and I urge full support of the Pirate Party’s proposed bill to ban commercial whaling in Iceland,
(YOUR NAME and DATE)
PLEASE send one EMAIL to the Prime Minister by February 12, 2024
1) CLICK on email address to send your personalized message including YOUR NAME & DATE to
Bjarni Benediktsson Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland <email@example.com>
Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister for Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries <firstname.lastname@example.org>
HELP SPREAD THE WORD! Please share our campaign #IcelandWithoutWhaling across social media and use your voice to support a permanent whaling ban in Iceland. We encourage you to take a 'selfie' with the poster (click the PDF icons to download) and/or share the graphic we have created. Whichever option you choose, please make sure to include our hashtag #IcelandWithoutWhaling and tag us!
US Letter size
Click on this social media graphic above to download the JPEG file directly from our Dropbox folder. Thank you for spreading the word!
Additional information - Reasons why whaling should end:
Iceland's Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir has publicly stated, "It must be demonstrated that it is economically justifiable to renew whaling rights. In a historical context, these whale hunts have had a negative effect on the country's export interests. All things being equal, there is little justification for authorizing whaling after 2024. This year, an assessment will be made of the potential macroeconomic and social impact of such a decision." [Source - International Marine Mammal Project]
The 5-year annual quota for 161 Fin whales applies to the western region covered by Hvalur hf's whaling permit (the last whaling company in Iceland - owned by Kristjan Loftsson). The permit expires at the end of 2023. [Source - National Geographic]
"According to the financial statements of Hvalur hf, the largest Icelandic whaling company, its whaling operations generated roughly a billion ISK in losses (7.5 million USD/6.8 million EUR)." Hvalur hf is the last whaling company in Iceland - owned by CEO Kristjan Loftsson. [Source - Iceland Magazine]
Whaling is not a humane process. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) released a report in May 2023 regarding the monitoring of whaling in Iceland during the previous season (2022). The extremely concerning report concluded that 41% of the whales killed took over 11 minutes to die. Additionally, one whale took one hour to die and one took two hours. Of the 148 whales that were caught, two thirds of the whales were female, 11 of those whales were pregnant females, and one of those females was still lactating. This indicates a juvenile Fin whale, still reliant on its mother, may not survive as a result of its mother being killed. Of the 148 whales that were targeted, 36 whales (24%) were shot more than once: five whales were shot three times and four whales were shot four times. One whale with a harpoon in its back was chased for five hours without success. The whale that got away (possibly dying later from injuries or living injured and in pain) is referred to as "struck and lost".
[Source - MAST Report summary - Google Chrome provides quick translation of the page if needed]
[Source - PDF of the entire MAST report - 55 pages - Note: This is written in Icelandic]
[Source - Report summary via The Guardian]
[Source - Please like/share Stefán's Instagram post with impactful whaling art about this report]
Struck and lost whales: "Very little is known about the whales that are struck by a harpoon or rifle, but then escape injured. These whales are known as ‘Struck and Lost’ and it is hard to image that any nation would tolerate a comparative percentage of animals in a slaughterhouse being ‘struck and lost’ and escaping to an unknown fate. Yet, ‘Struck and Lost’ whales are a persistent feature of all whale and dolphin hunting operations. For example, in Greenland’s narwhal hunts, a combination of under-reporting and stuck and lost animals adds an average of 42% to the harvest statistics for 1954-1998. ‘Struck and Lost’ whales that survive may either die slowly or live with painful or debilitating injuries and associated infections. The magnitude of the welfare issues associated with ‘Struck and Lost’ whales should not be underestimated." [Source - WDC / formerly WDCS]
"Over 40% of whales suffer a long and painful death for a dying industry - The suffering whales endure during this hunt is unimaginable. Last year we saw images of a fin whale returning to shore with four harpoons in its body, demonstrating the inherent cruelty happening at sea.” adds Ramage. The gruesome evidence is in; commercial whaling is inhumane, unnecessary and must end. Living whales are far more valuable to the marine ecosystem and to the whale watching industry than they are served up on a plate. We call on the government of Iceland to end this slaughter for good.” [Source - ifaw]
Kristjan Loftsson owns the whaling company "Hvalur hf"- the only company in Iceland still hunting whales. He has clearly stated "About 90 percent of the company’s meat goes to Japan." There isn't much demand for whale meat in Iceland and the majority is exported. [Source - National Geographic]
84% of Icelanders said they have never tasted whale meat at all. [Source - ifaw]
"Icelandic whalers hunt both fin whales and minke whales in their waters. Almost all of the fin whale meat and products are exported to Japan, whilst most of the minke whale meat was served to tourists until outreach campaigns by WDC and others considerably reduced demand. Due to the pandemic and other factors relating to demand, there was no fin or minke whaling in 2019 and 2020 and no fin whaling in 2021 (although a single minke whale was taken that year). Sadly, the fin whale hunt resumed in June 2022 and whalers from Iceland's sole fin whaling company, Hvalur hf., killed a total of 148 whales in the following months.” [Source - WDC]
"Our conservative estimates put the value of the average great whale, based on its various activities, at more than $2 million, and easily over $1 trillion for the current stock of great whales." Referencing the value of each living Fin whale as approximately $3 million (as noted they are worth more than $2 million), that puts the value of Iceland's 161 Fin whale quota at approximately $483 million. They are worth far more alive as an ongoing resource and key species in helping maintain the health of our oceans. [Source - IMF]
Via CNN: The total revenue of whale watching companies in Iceland amounted to $26.5 million in 2017. Hvalur’s earnings from commercial whaling in Iceland during the same time frame was $14.1 million. Ecotourism has proven time and time again to be far more profitable as an ongoing and sustainable resource. Kristjan Loftsson and the individuals who work for him are the sole recipients of the single revenue source provided from Icelandic whaling, with Kristjan Loftsson receiving most of that revenue. Living whales provide an ongoing revenue source for the length of their lifetime! A multitude of businesses (including the government) benefit from living whales: whale watching & tourism companies, hotels and housing rentals, restaurants and grocery stores, in addition to all the local businesses that benefit from having tourists in the area to see the whales. [Source - CNN]
A 2019 report in the magazine of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that “each great whale sequesters 33 tons of CO2 on average, taking that carbon out of the atmosphere for centuries.” Rebuilding populations of large baleen whales would store carbon in their bodies equivalent to the amount in 110,000 hectares (272,000 acres) of forest, “an area the size of the Rocky Mountain National Park,” in Colorado, U.S., the authors of a 2010 paper in PLOS ONE calculated. This is why whales are “an extremely powerful ally in the fight against the climate crisis,” Cabrera said. [Source - IMF] [Source - PLOS ONE]
Creative Art Option! If you would like to send an art letter, please dive in and get creative! Fold your letter into an origami Fin whale or create an impactful illustration/painting. Click the button below for info from our co-founder Peggy Oki.
Request whaling license be revoked and permanently end Icelandic whaling
Urge Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir to end whaling in Iceland.
Request full transparency of whaling operations in Iceland.
Petition directed at Icelanders, but everyone is encouraged to sign.
Urge Iceland not to grant any more licenses for commercial whaling
Video length: 2:09:46 (Speakers finish at 2 hrs)
This video is a great resource for learning more about whaling in Iceland and why it should come to an end. This event was streamed live from The Nordic House in Reykjavík, Iceland. The video is available for viewing on Facebook (where it was Live-streamed). Please click here to watch or on the image above.
Video length: 2:25 (short video)
The "If Only" campaign is a collaboration between Oceanic Preservation Society and artist Shreyans Zaveri. The campaign and artwork envisions a world where every whale matters and commercial whaling in Iceland - and everywhere - is a thing of the past. Please click on the video above to start watching - or click here to swim over to the YouTube link.
There's a common misconception that whaling in Iceland continues primarily due to tradition - a topic that Stefán Yngvi Petursson recently addressed. We encourage you to watch the short video and share it to help spread the awareness further. Please make sure to credit and tag Stefán (@Styngvi) in the caption if you share his content. Please click on the images to the left to watch the short videos on instagram.
Whales play an important role in helping maintain the health of our oceans. Stefán [©Styngvi] has been creating "artivism" about whaling and many other conservation topics since 2017. We greatly appreciate his ongoing awareness and conservation efforts in Iceland and around the world!
“Whales play an incredibly crucial role to the health of our oceans and planet, and contribute immeasurably in spirit to those aware of the awe-inspiring grandeur and grace of these magnificent and gentle Beings."