United States Government takes action over Icelandic whaling

Thursday, 6 February, 2014
Washington, D.C.

The US Government today announced it is invoking the Pelly Amendment which certifies Iceland for undermining the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) over its continued slaughter of whales and trade in whale meat.

As one of the original petitioners, The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) commends United States Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, for acknowledging that Iceland’s whaling is diminishing the effectiveness of CITES.

“We are so pleased that the US government has certified,” said Beth Allgood, US Campaign Director. “We encourage President Obama to seize this opportunity to take strong actions that compel Iceland to end fin whaling once and for all.”

President Obama now has 60 days to issue a formal response which includes the option to issue economic sanctions against Icelandic companies involved in the trade in whale products.

Kristjan Loftsson, the lone Icelandic whaler responsible for the slaughter of endangered fin whales, resumed the cruel practice last summer after a three-year hiatus and harpooned 134 fin whales by season’s end.  

IFAW opposes all commercial whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary. It is also uneconomic while whale watching offers a humane and financially lucrative alternative, generating over $2 billion worldwide every year. Iceland is one of Europe’s top destinations for whale watching and last year attracted 175,000 whale watchers.

Allgood added:  “The U.S. made the transition from a commercial whaling nation to a whale watching destination decades ago; it’s time for Iceland to support whale watching, its biggest tourist industry, over whale hunting, its biggest embarrassment.”

Shortly before Christmas, the Icelandic government issued new quotas which would allow 229 minke whales and 154 endangered fin whales to be harpooned each year for the next five years.


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 www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For stock images and footage visit www.ifawimages.com

Notes to Editors – 

Kristjan 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.

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

IFAW runs a ‘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. Tourists visiting Iceland are encouraged to use restaurants carrying a ‘Whale Friendly’ sticker as these have pledged not to serve whale meat.

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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
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
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
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime