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Seeking sanctuary – Iceland’s complex relationship with whales

A summer of hope and heartbreak for whales in Icelandic waters

Whaling ship Hvalur 8 arrives at the whaling station with two fin whales

Now that the 2023 whaling season in Iceland has ended, it’s time to reflect on the whirlwind of events that unfolded for the fin whales in Icelandic waters. We have been at the forefront of efforts to end the slaughter, and this season was a rollercoaster of emotions, with moments of hope that an end to whaling was in sight, and heartache as 25 sentient beings fell victim to the harpoons.

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Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

Fin whale

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland’s Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little justification for authorising any further whaling when the current permits expire in 2023. Stating unequivocally that ‘it must be shown that it is economically justifiable to renew fishing rights’, Svandís reminds readers that whaling has damaged Iceland’s reputation and negatively…

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Icelandic fin whales win a reprieve this summer

I can’t tell you how delighted I am at the news that fin whales will swim in peace off Iceland – this summer at least. Last summer’s whaling season was particularly chaotic and distressing as the whalers killed 146 fin whales, including two rare blue whale/fin whale hybrids, and numerous pregnant females. A majestic fin…

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Iceland: A new dawn for whales and dolphins?

Will 2018 be the year that I can finally visit beautiful Iceland purely as a tourist, rather than a campaigner? Maybe it’s not surprising that this fabled ‘land of fire and ice’ should offer visitors a host of contradictions, but the juxtaposition of whale watching and whale hunting in the same waters is surely one…

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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…

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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…

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NGOs take campaign against fin whaling to Boston Seafood EXPO

BOSTON SEAFOOD EXPO. Members of the “Don’t Buy from Icelandic Whalers” coalition have affirmed that their campaign will continue until Iceland permanently ends commercial whaling and international trading of whale products, despite recent news that Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf is suspending its summer hunt of endangered fin whales. The coalition encourages supermarket and food…

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