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Majestic fin whales

Icelandic whalers kill first fin whales in four years

As feared, whale hunters in Iceland have slaughtered at least two fin whales, the first...
Humpback whale underwater

Humpback whale rescued from shark net in Australia

A humpback whale and her calf have managed to escape after becoming entangled in a...
Humpback whales in Alaska

Pumps and conveyor belts. How could more whales help save us?

We are excited to announce backing for two ground-breaking research projects to assess the little...
Amazon River dolphin (Boto)

River dolphins observed playing with anaconda

Researchers in Bolivia recorded an unusual interaction between local rivers dolphins and an anaconda snake...
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Port River dolphins

New report reveals 100,000 dolphins and small whales hunted every year

When you hear the words ‘dolphin hunts’ it’s likely that you think of Japan or...

Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales has ended for this year. The common minke whale is the...

Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake

Icelandic whalers out hunting fin whales for the first time in three years appear to...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate...

Japan set to resume commercial whaling

Reports from Japan suggest that the government they will formally propose plans to resume commercial...

End the whale hunts! Icelandic fin whaler isolated as public mood shifts

Here’s a sight I hoped never again to witness. A boat being scrubbed and repainted...

Australian Government to block Japanese whaling proposal

Japanese Government officials have reportedly confirmed that they will propose the resumption of commercial whaling...

Pregnant whales once again a target for Japanese whalers

Figures from Japan's whaling expedition to Antarctica during the 2017/18 austral summer have revealed that...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

SOS alert for whales off Norway!

I have to admit to bitter disappointment when I arrived in Tromsø, northern Norway, a...

Norway's whaling season begins

April 1st saw the start of the whaling season in Norway. Despite a widely-accepted international moratorium...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

Norway's government has announced an increase in the number of minke whales that can be...

Airlines servicing Iceland urged to stop promotion of whale products

Animal protection and conservation groups in Europe are calling on European airlines that offer flights to Iceland, a popular whale-watching destination, to urge passengers to stop buying whale products while travelling in the country.

The move comes as Iceland’s peak tourism season begins and coincides with the imminent start of the country’s annual minke whale hunt, during which up to 264 minke whales could be slaughtered, with much of the meat sold to tourists.

The conservation groups are offering to meet with executives from airlines including Easyjet, British Airways, Lufthansa and Norwegian Airlines to request that they don’t even consider promoting whale meat or venues serving whale meat to their passengers and offer suggestions as to how airlines can support whale conservation.

“Most whale meat is consumed by tourists – ironically many of them travelling from whale-friendly countries – so it’s crucial that airline ads and magazine articles don’t create the false impression that it’s a popular or traditional food as very few Icelanders eat whale meat. Encouraging passenger curiosity about sampling these products makes the airlines complicit with the whaling industry,” said Vanessa Williams-Grey, policy manager at WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

Sandra Altherr, co-founder of Pro Wildlife, added: “Whaling in Iceland is directly sustained by those tourists eating whale meat. But airlines should recognize that, nevertheless, the vast majority of their clients are against whaling”.

As part of a concerted effort, US-based animal protection and conservation organizations have initiated a similar campaign, targeting US and Canadian carriers.  All these organizations are encouraging people travelling to Iceland to support Iceland’s whale-watch industry, eat only at restaurants which do not serve whale meat and not to purchase any whale products to bring home.

“We need the airlines’ help to encourage their passengers not to eat whale meat. People might be tempted, but such temptation comes with a price tag and that price is simply too high. Iceland is such an amazing place to encounter whales in the wild and we hope that airlines which bring tourists to Iceland will want to join us in promoting whale-friendly businesses in Iceland,” said Jennifer Lonsdale, Environmental Investigation Agency, Senior Oceans Campaigner.

Iceland’s whale-watching industry has grown substantially since its inception in 1991, when 100 people took part in a whale-watch tour. Hundreds of thousands of the more than two million tourists visiting Iceland’s each year enjoy at-sea encounters with humpback, fin and minke whales and other species.

Yet, back on shore, tourists are significant consumers of whale meat. Many of the 46 minke whales killed last year ended up in restaurants, as well as grocery stores, falsely marketed to tourists as ‘traditional’ local dishes. Carved whale bone, baleen, and teeth are also sold as tourist souvenirs, even though the vast majority of countries prohibit the import of whale products (the only current exceptions being Japan, Iceland, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Palau and St Vincent).

“Even though it is illegal to bring whale products into the European Union and most of the rest of the world, tourists still do it,” said Fabienne McLellan, deputy director international relations from OceanCare. “We would be delighted to see airlines getting involved in raising awareness amongst their passengers about the wonderful opportunities to watch whales in the wild, but also communicate a clear warning to passengers visiting Iceland about the illegality of transporting whale products outside the country and the health implications of eating them. It’s all about providing encouragement to act responsibly.”

Icelandic whalers continue to defy a global ban on commercial whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission in 1986. Since resuming whaling in 2003, the Icelandic government has permitted hunters to kill more than 700 endangered fin whales (whose meat is mainly exported to Japan) and 630 minke whales.