About IceWhale 2017-11-05T20:32:43+00:00

THE ICELANDIC WHALE WATCHING ASSOCIATION

IceWhale – The Icelandic Whale Watching Association is a non profit organisation formed by Icelandic whale watching operators. The cooperation dates back to 1999 but the association was formally formed in 2014. The aim of the association is to be a common platform for companies that offer whale watching tours and education about whales in Iceland. United under the association the companies set out to promote whale watching as well as conservation of whales and safeguard members interests locally and internationally.

Our board of directors
Gísli ÓIafsson, chair
Hilmar Stefánsson, member at large
Erna Björnsdóttir, member at large

Staff
Maria Gunnarsdottir, secretary and treasurer
info@icewhale.is

COOPERATION BETWEEN IFAW AND ICEWHALE

Meet Us Don’t Eat Us is a joint project between IFAW and IceWhale that was launched in Reykjavík in the spring of 2010. So far  numerous volunteers from all over the world have participated in the project. We work with ViVe in recruiting volunteers this year.

THE AIM IS TO END COMMERCIAL WHALING

The aim is to inform and educate tourists about the facts regarding whale meat consumption in Iceland and gain their support to end commercial whaling instead of contributing to it by tasting it in Reykjavík restaurants. In reality, whale meat consumption is not that common in Iceland and whale hunting is not really a traditional activity either. Commercial whaling didn’t started until 1948 with the company Hvalur inc. in Hvalfjordur. Before that most of the whaling around Iceland was conducted by foreign whalers.

MeetUsDontEatUs-logo-nytt

POSITIVE CAMPAIGN THAT SHOWS THE SUSTAINABLE WAY TO ENJOY WHALES IS BY WHALE WATCHING

Meet Us Don’t Eat Us is a positive campaign. Although this is a serious subject we want to approach tourists and indeed Icelanders in a constructive way, pointing out that the best sustainable way to enjoy whales is by responsible whale watching. By distributing informative leaflets, promoting ‘whale friendly’ restaurants and responsible whale watching tours as well as collecting signatures to our petition we are encouraging tourists to make a conscious choice.

WHALE WATCHING AND WHALE KILLING DO NOT GO TOGETHER

All the minke whales killed in Iceland in recent years have been taken close to the whale watching area in Faxaflói bay, that’s out of Reykjavík. These whales will never be seen again by people going whale watching. IceWhale and it’s members are concerned about this issue and have therefore worked closely with IFAW on their campaigns. Let your voice be heard and sign the petition!

SUCCESS SINCE WHALE MEAT CONSUMPTION IN ICELAND IS GOING DOWN

So far surveys show whale meat consumption by tourists is down by half since our project started, but we set our aim even higher. You can help by choosing whale friendly restaurants and signing the petition. The Meet Us Don’t Eat Us campaign  has already resulted in the largest petition in Iceland with well over 100,000 signatures!

When you are in downtown Reykjavík area or at the old harbor during the summer you will likely see our volunteers in action. Please show interest in their important contribution to whale protection and choose a whale friendly restaurant when you are in Iceland. Your positive contribution is highly appreciated.

ABOUT WHALING IN ICELAND

Sadly, Iceland is among the few countries in the world that still hunts whales. The current whaling operation is in accordance with a resolution by the Iceland’s parliament, Alþingi, on whaling dated 10 March 1999. After a 13 year stop whaling was resumed scientifically in 2003 and commercially in 2006, targeting minke and fin whales. This operation has raised considerable attention and opposition world wide given the IWC current zero quotas, often referred to as a moratorium on whaling. Contrary to the common belief Iceland does not have a long history of whaling. It wasn’t until 1948 that Icelanders started their first actual whaling operation after limited catches in 1935 to 1939. At the time fin, sei and sperm whales were mainly targeted and to some extent blue and humpback whales to begin with. The hunt of minke whales however started later on.

Before this the use of whales was mainly limited to the occasional stranding of whales and spear-drifting of smaller cetacean. There is no denying that at the time the meat provided by a stranded whale often meant the difference between life and death for a starving community. The Icelandic word ‘hvalreki’, meaning whale stranding, has therefore come to mean ‘jackpot’ or ‘good fortune’ and is still widely used today. At the time the whale deaths around Iceland were though not all by natural causes as foreign whalers started making their way to the rich whaling grounds around Iceland in the 16th century. Given the current whaling operation many find it hard to belief that Iceland was one of the first countries to take a conservationist approach to whaling. This was in 1915 when signs of over exploitation of whales by foreign whalers emerged, but also nationalistic sentiments that had risen from watching the whalers profit from the industry that Icelanders lacked the facilities and technical knowhow to take part in.

The opposition to whaling in Iceland is currently largely focused on the minke whaling given the direct competition with the whale watching industry. In recent years the minke whaling has only taken place close to the whale watching area in Faxaflói bay and the companies there have raised concerns that they whalers might be targeting their most valuable whales. Internationally the focus is more on the fin whaling as the they are globally listed by IUCN as an endangered species and the fin whaling trade is therefore in violation the CITES agreement.