New whale protection campaign urges tourists visiting Iceland to avoid eating whale meat

Friday, 3 June, 2011
Tourists visiting Iceland this summer will be targeted in a highly visible campaign asking them to protect whales by avoiding eating whale meat.

Launching tomorrow (Saturday) with the slogan ‘Meet Us Don’t Eat Us’, the project by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Icelandic Whale Watching Association (Icewhale), encourages tourists to enjoy whales in the wild on whale watching trips, rather than sampling whale meat in restaurants.

IFAW opposes whaling because it is inherently cruel – there is no humane way to kill a whale. While many people believe whale meat is a popular dish enjoyed by most Icelanders, only about 5% of Icelanders claim to eat it regularly.*

IFAW’s UK Director Robbie Marsland said: “Despite the cruelty involved in whaling and limited appetite for whale meat among Icelanders, we are concerned that an estimated 40% of tourists are persuaded to eat whale meat under the mistaken belief that it is a traditional Icelandic dish. This means that whales are killed each year just to be sampled by curious tourists.

“We hope that our Meet Us Don’t Eat Us campaign will encourage visitors to Iceland to think about the menu choices they make in the country’s excellent restaurants to ensure they don’t go home with a bad taste in their mouths.”

Following a launch event in Reykjavik’s Old Harbour tomorrow evening for politicians, restaurateurs, tourism representatives and other invited guests, the Meet Us Don’t Eat Us slogan will appear in adverts in Keflavik Airport and around the capital in newspapers and on buses. In addition, volunteers dressed as whales will distribute leaflets and talk to tourists in downtown Reykjavik from June to August. Leaflets will also be distributed to other tourist hotspots in Iceland.

Rannveig Grétarsdóttir, Chair of Icewhale, said: “Every year we welcome thousands of tourists onto our whale watching boats to enjoy the amazing spectacle of whales and other marine life around our coastline. This is the only sustainable use of whales.”



* Gallup poll, June 2010.

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Sigursteinn Masson (IFAW Iceland)
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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