Iceland: Fin whaling ended for this season

Iceland: Fin whaling ended for this season
Wednesday, 26 September, 2018
London, United Kingdom

Kristjan Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur hf, the only company involved in Icelandic fin whaling, announced the end of this year’s hunting season on September 25. Loftsson has harpooned 146 fin whales since the season commenced in June.

Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s Marine Conservation Programme Director, said: “We are extremely disappointed that 146 endangered fin whales had to die for meat that nobody needs or wants because Mr Loftsson refuses to give up this hunt. We encourage the Icelandic government to put an end to the outdated and uneconomic practice of whale killing which is damaging to Iceland’s international reputation.”

Loftsson’s company last killed 155 fin whales in 2015, chiefly for the Japanese market. There had been no fin whaling in Iceland until  the hunt recommenced this year, with Loftsson citing difficulties in trading the meat with Japan.

Earlier this summer there was international outcry after it was revealed that on July 7, whalers working for Kristjan Loftsson’s Hvalur hf had killed two rare blue/fin whale hybrids. Whale hybrids, when the offspring of a protected species like the blue whale, are barred from international trade by the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

“Japan cannot legally import any whale products from Iceland which contain or could contain meat from the killed blue/fin whale hybrids, and unless Mr. Loftsson can clearly demonstrate that the meat of the hybrids have been processed and stored separately from the fin whale meat none of the whales hunted by Mr. Loftsson could be legally exported to Japan. If it were not obvious already this further demonstrates how futile and wasteful Mr. Loftsson’s whaling operations are”, continues Ramage.

“Some serious questions remain to be answered by the Icelandic authorities about the management of whaling, including what will happen to any meat from the hybrids to ensure it cannot be traded and whether or not it has come into contact with the rest of the fin whale meat supply. We hope such considerations will be taken into account by the Icelandic government in its upcoming review of whaling policy.”

IFAW opposes all commercial whaling as it is inherently cruel; there is no humane way to kill a whale. In addition to the trading difficulties with their main fin whale meat importer, Japan, as well as the outstanding questions above, Icelanders do not consume fin whale meat. Recent Gallup polling commissioned by IFAW revealed that Icelandic support for fin whaling has significantly reduced, with 35.4% now declaring they are in favour of fin whaling, compared to 42% in 2016. Just four years ago, similar polling found 56.9% in favour of fin whaling, around 20% higher.*


For more information, images and footage or to arrange interviews please contact Andreas Dinkelmeyer at IFAW on mobile +49 173 622 75 39 or email Alternatively, please visit


Notes to Editors:

*This survey was carried out by Gallup between October 4 and 11, 2017, to survey Icelanders’ attitudes to whale hunting. It used a sample size of 1,448. The survey was carried out online across Iceland targeting only those aged 18 years and over randomly selected from Gallup’s Internet Panel. Total number of respondents was 859, with 589 not responding, giving a total response rate of 59.3%. Full results are available on request.


About IFAW

Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organisation that protects animals and the places they call home. With offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40, we rescue, rehabilitate and release animals into secure landscapes around the world. In collaboration with both governments and local communities, our experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists pioneer lasting solutions to some of the most pressing animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues of our time.

Post a comment

Press Contact

Andreas Dinkelmeyer
Contact phone:
+49 173 622 75 39
Contact email:


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