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Mindful conservation – why we need a new respect for nature

'We should look at whales and dolphins as the indigenous people of the seas -...
A dolphin called Arnie with a 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...
Humpback whale. Image: Christopher Swann

A story about whales and humans

As well as working for WDC, I write books for young people. Stories; about the...
Risso's dolphin at surface

My lucky number – 13 years studying amazing Risso’s dolphins

Everything we learn about the Risso's dolphins off the coast of Scotland amazes us and...
Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
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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...

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...

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...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

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

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

Iceland’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur hf,  announced today that it will resume fin whaling...

SOS alert for whales off Norway!

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

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