Global volunteer corps coming to Iceland to save whales

Today, only a small fraction of the bay is designated as a whale watching area but all hunting of minke whales takes place inside the bay. From Ghana, Spain, the US, UK, Germany, Hong Kong SAR of China, Russia, Sweden, Holland and many other countries, impassioned animal welfare volunteers are now registering here to protect whales in Iceland.

Perhaps you could join them?

Their task: to inform and educate the fast-growing number of tourists in Iceland that it is not a good idea to eat whale meat during their visit to this beautiful country, and to gather signatures for a petition to increase the size of the capital city bay’s whale sanctuary.

This year, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and its Icelandic partners, (the Icelandic Whale Watching Association) and (Icelandic Travel Industry Association), are focusing on having Faxaflói Bay outside Reykjavík declared a sanctuary for whales.

READ: Reykjavík votes whaling out of Faxaflói Bay

Today, only a small fraction of the bay is designated as a whale watching area. However, all hunting of minke whales takes place inside the bay, close to where whale watching boats are taking hundreds of thousands of tourists out each year to enjoy the amazing experience of witnessing whales in their natural environment.

The aim this summer is to collect 50,000 signatures in support of the Faxaflói Sanctuary.

Since 2011, IFAW has collaborated with Icewhale, for “Meet Us Don’t Eat Us,” an awareness campaign highlighting whale watching as the positive alternative to whaling. We have been able, with the help of around 500 volunteers from all corners of the world, to bring the consumption of whale meat down from 40 percent of all tourists in 2009 to just 12 percent last year, according to studies. Contrary to the perception of “tradition” in the area, only 1.5 percent of Icelanders say they eat whale meat regularly, according to a Gallup poll last October.

Local consumption of the meat has never been so low.

Despite this, the whalers plan to continue the inhumane and unnecessary hunt this summer, so the need for volunteers on Meet Us Don’t Eat Us is as great as ever.

Our last signature petition exceeded its target last August with more than 100,000 signatures from tourists and locals pledging not to eat whale meat and asking the government to stop whaling.

Up to 30 volunteers will participate in Meet Us Don’t Eat Us this summer from June until late August. The streets of downtown Reykjavík and the harbour area will be the focus, but volunteers will also have the chance to go whale watching, visit the Whales of Iceland Exhibition, and will offer a trip to some of Iceland’s hidden natural wonders, off the beaten track.

IFAW and our partners will also be available to help volunteers with planning to make the most of their off hours, as they will have two days off each week and working hours are for a maximum of seven hours per day.

If you want to protect whales, why not consider volunteering for IFAW and Meet Us Don’t Eat Us this summer? The deadline to apply at is the end of April.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Jimmiel Mandima at IFAW
Deputy Vice President of Conservation
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime