First fin whale harpooned in Iceland in three years is brought ashore to protest at home and abroad

First fin whale harpooned in Iceland for three years is brought ashore to protes
Tuesday, 18 June, 2013

A lone whaler has resumed the cruel practice of harpooning endangered fin whales in Iceland after a three-year hiatus.

Two of Kristjan Loftsson’s boats left port in Reykjavik on Sunday evening and one has now arrived at his whaling station in Hvalfjordur with the first harpooned fin whale of the season strapped to its side. The arrival was marked with a protest by around 40 people, most of them Icelanders.

More than one million people from around the world signed a recent online petition against the trading of Icelandic fin whale meat amid revelations that some of it has ended up in dog food products in Japan.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - condemned the resumption of fin whaling as cruel and unnecessary.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “It is a very sad day seeing these images and knowing that this endangered animal has suffered a cruel death, only to be cut up for meat that nobody needs.

“It is time that this dying industry was ended. We urge the Icelandic government to listen to its whale watching and tourism operators and many members of the public both within and outside Iceland and recognise that slaughtering whales is uneconomic as well as inhumane. Whale watching brings greater benefit to coastal communities.”

Loftsson, whose operation was responsible for slaughtering 280* fin whales in Icelandic waters in recent years, cancelled hunts in 2011 and 2012, laying off whaling staff and citing difficulties in trading the meat with Japan following its tsunami tragedy.

He regularly exports relatively small amounts of fin whale meat to his own company in Japan, but has yet to find great demand for the meat on the Japanese market.

Minke whaling in Iceland, which has focussed on a limited domestic and tourism market, is also dwindling. Last year, 52 minke whales were killed, despite a catch limit of 216. The annual minke whaling season opened last month.

IFAW is continuing its ‘Meet Us Don’t Eat Us’ campaign in Iceland, encouraging tourists visiting the country to support responsible whale watching but to avoid sampling whale meat.

Iceland is one of Europe’s top destinations for whale watching and last year attracted 175,000 whale watchers.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Robbie Marsland at IFAW on mobile +44 (0)7801 613534. Alternatively contact Sigursteinn Masson in Iceland on 00354 8638361 or email

For latest images and footage please contact Amanda Gent on 020 7587 6725 or for stock images and footage visit

Notes to Editors – 

* Seven fin whales were killed in Iceland’s waters in 2006, 125 in 2009 and 148 in 2010.

A five-year fin whaling quota was granted covering 2009 to 2013, with an allowance that any unused quota could feasibly be carried over to 2014.

Iceland is at risk of diplomatic action by the United States over its commercial whaling activities.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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