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Stop Whaling in Iceland

The 5-year annual quota for 161 Fin whales applies to the western region covered by the company’s license, which expires at the end of 2023. [Source - National Geographic]

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]

Kristjan Loftsson owns the whaling company "Hvalur hf" - the only company

in Iceland actively hunting whales during the 'whaling season' (June - September).

Please urge Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir to NOT renew or authorize any future whaling permits and let whaling become a thing of the past. Whaling must end permanently! Please TAKE ACTION below!

Scroll down for a list of reasons and information about why whaling in Iceland should permanently end. Below the list you'll also find additional videos to learn more about whaling.


Fin whale illustration created by Icelandic artist & activist Stefán Yngvi Petursson [©Styngvi]

TAKE ACTION - E-Message: Oceanic Preservation Society has created a pre-written letter that you can send directly to Iceland's Minster of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir - urging her to end whaling permanently.

Hand-written letters can be the most impactful action! We've compiled a list of reasons and resources in regards to the importance of writing a letter. We encourage you to send hand-written letters on behalf of our cetacean friends.  Click here for reasons & resources about the importance of letters!

Write to Minster Svandís Svavarsdóttir - When writing your letter, you can reference the pre-written letter by OPS if needed. Scroll down further to read "Additional information - Reasons why whaling should end" for helpful points to personalize your letter. Please send your letter to the address below.

To: Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir

      Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries

      Borgartún 26

      105 Reykjavík


Write to Prime Minster Katrín Jakobsdóttir - Minster Svandís Svavarsdóttir (noted above) has more specific authority in regards to issuing whaling permits, but you can also reach out to the Prime Minister of Iceland. Please consider sending a hand-written letter to Prime Minster Katrín Jakobsdóttir and let her know that you do not support this cruel and unnecessary industry. Urge her to ensure Iceland's future doesn't include whaling. Please send your letter to the address below:

To: Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir

      Stjórnarráðshúsið við Lækjartorg
     (Prime Minster's Office at Lækjargata)

      101 Reykjavík



Request the whaling license provided by Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir be revoked immediately, along with the permanent end of whaling in Iceland.


Please sign this petition created by the manager of the Whales Of Iceland Museum - urging Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir to end whaling in Iceland.


Request full transparency of whaling operations in Iceland - including the release of all footage and a request for additional monitoring.


Although this campaign is directly reaching out to Icelanders - ALL are welcome to sign (select your location from the drop-down). For more than two decades, IFAW has partnered with Icelanders to protect the future of Iceland’s whales.

Additional information - Reasons why whaling should end:

  • Whaling is not a humane process. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has just released a report 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]

  • Multiple explosive harpoons are needed when the first strike does not kill the whale. Every aspect of whaling is inhumane. "Because of the difficulty of obtaining a clean, accurate strike or because of inadequately powered weapons, some whales can take minutes, sometimes even hours, to die - - - For animals who have not been stunned or killed by then, the pain and distress during hauling must be excruciating. A proportion of struck whales are lost (e.g., if the harpoon line breaks due to heavy seas or other causes), only to die of their injuries or suffer pain from infections." [Source - Animal Welfare Institute]

  • "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]

  • Regarding the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority's recently released report (noted above) about the 2022 whaling season:  Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir told RÚV it’s not possible to halt whaling this season (2023), despite the report showing that the practice is not in line with legislation on animal welfare. Revoking the remaining permit from Hvalur hf (owned by Kristjan Loftsson) is not currently an option. "There needs to be a legal basis for yanking away this licence. That legal basis is not at hand, as far as I am informed in my ministry,” she stated. Svandís has previously indicated the government would not issue further whaling licences after the 2023 season.  We sincerely hope Iceland's days of whaling will soon be a thing of the past. [Source - Iceland Review]

  • 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]

  • A strategy to protect whales can limit greenhouse gases and global warming - "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 - the value applies to living whales. They are worth far more alive as an ongoing resource and key species in helping maintain the health of our oceans. [Source - IMF]

  • According to 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]

  • Whales are an important carbon-sink on our planet. 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]

  • "Compared to phytoplankton that have life spans measured in days, whales and large fish live for many decades. The carbon accumulated in the body of a long-lived vertebrate will remain out of the atmosphere for the animal's life." - The Impact of Whaling on the Ocean Carbon Cycle: Why Bigger Was Better [Source - PLOS ONE]


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.


Whales play an important role in helping maintain the health of our oceans. Many of those reasons are noted above along with the articles linked so you can dive in and learn more!

Stefán [©Styngvi] has been creating "artivism" about whaling and many other conservation topics since 2017. We greatly appreciate his ongoing outreach efforts in Iceland and around the world!


There's a common misconception that whaling in Iceland continues primarily due to tradition - a topic that Stefán 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 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 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."

- Peggy Oki

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