Bad weather in Iceland is good news for whales

35 minke whales were killed this season, but that is half the number of minke whales killed three years ago and considerably less then last year when 52 whales were killed.Nature has its way.

Many things helped make this whaling season in Iceland miserable for the whalers and better than expected for whales.

Still 35 minke whales were killed this season, but that is half the number of minke whales killed three years ago and considerably less then last year when 52 whales were killed.

By focusing on informing tourists about the reality of whaling, the demand for whale meat in Iceland steadily goes down. A big contributor to this has also been the weather this year. A windy summer has made whaling an extraordinarily bad business.

Alarmingly though, 128 endangered fin whales have been killed this summer off the west of Iceland after a pause of two years. Still, that is 26 less then the quota issued by the Icelandic government.

The main owner of the Hvalur inc. whaling company made bold statements at the beginning of the season, saying he would at least kill the full quota of 154 whales, but hopefully the remaining 26 will escape his explosive harpoons this year. Any single whale killed is of course too much though.

What is the point?

IFAW posed this question publicly on several occasions in Iceland this summer. Along with whale watching operators we sailed with a cargo ship going into Reykjavík harbour carrying three containers with 150 tonnes of fin whale meat.

The Icelandic cargo ship company Samskip was stopped in both Rotterdam and Hamburg before it had to bring the bloody cargo back to Iceland. This was the first time Reykjavík whale watching operators participated in public demonstrations against the fin whaling.

Our message: What is the point of whaling? Both minke whaling and fin whaling activities are in the red. The Minke Whaling Association went bust last year and Mr Loftsson is heavily subsidising his cruel fin whaling hobby. IFAW demonstrated twice in front of Hvalfjörður whaling station as workers were flensing (cutting up) the second biggest animal on the planet.

Whales are not dog food!

In June it became public knowledge that fin whale meat from Iceland was being sold as dog food in Japan. At least three pet food companies there advertised it online.

IFAW went with banners to protest as the first fin whale of the season was dragged from the whaling boat and into the station. Some Icelanders were also there and brought their children to watch. Our banners caught their attention. From the hill above the whaling station there is a remarkably good view over the activities in the station.

The experience is surreal, seeing those amazingly big animals being tossed just like enormous black garbage bags from the sea and into the station and the workers running around them like colourful ants. The waste and disrespect to nature is obvious to anyone who cares to think about it.

The senselessness of this activity is shocking. As the huge knives dug into the fin´s flesh the sky got darker at the horizon and soon strong winds embraced the mountains in this beautiful fjord. Within a few days the whalers started complaining about the weather disrupting their whaling. They are still complaining.


Post a comment


Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation