Action alert – stop Iceland's renegade whaling

Iceland is the only country that has actually expanded commercial whaling in recent years, with the killing of 273 endangered fin whales in 2009-10. More than 1,200 tonnes of fin whale meat and blubber, worth an estimated US$17 million, has been shipped to Japan since 2008. Several thousand tonnes remain in Iceland, awaiting shipment.

Fin whale being flensed at Hvalfjordur whaling station in Iceland (c) EIA

EIA investigations have shown that Kristján Loftsson, the multi-millionaire whaling king whose company Hvalur has carried out the endangered fin whale hunt, was instrumental in setting up the whale import company in Japan and is charging artificially low prices for fin whale meat in order to secure a new market for the product.

Although the Hvalur company has announced it will not carry out a fin whale hunt this year, due to uncertainties in the market situation in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami in March, CEO Loftsson has made it clear this is only a temporary reprieve for the fin whales; in fact, we’ve just learnt that a 133 tonne shipment of whale product was sent to Japan in July, some four months after the tsunami, so clearly there is still some market demand.

The only way to ensure lasting protection for Iceland’s endangered fin whales is to make certain that Iceland understands the worldwide opposition to commercial whaling, particularly in key trading partners such as the US and European Union countries.

Fin whale meat being processed in Iceland (c) EIA

In response to a petition by US NGOs, US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke has certified under the Pelly Amendment that Iceland is diminishing the effectiveness of the IWC and has recommended a range of actions against Iceland, including the possibility of trade sanctions.

The decision now rests with President Barack Obama, and he has to decide soon. Help stop Iceland’s renegade whaling by writing to President Obama today, urging him to impose trade sanctions against Iceland’s fishing interests linked to whaling.



Dear President Obama,

Iceland is a truly renegade whaling nation which is undermining both the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species through the hunting and international trade of endangered fin whales.

I urge you to follow up Secretary of Commerce Locke’s certification that Iceland is diminishing the effectiveness of the IWC by taking the strongest possible action against Iceland, including trade sanctions against fishing interests linked to whaling.

Diplomatic efforts within the IWC have failed. Iceland has so far got away with resuming a large-scale whale hunt of an endangered species which should be fully protected by a worldwide ban on commercial whaling.

We look to you to fulfil your promises and achieve the level of protection from hunting that whales urgently need as they cope with an increasingly degraded marine environment.

Thank you for your consideration




@BarackObamaUSA Please protect endangered fin whales by imposing trade sanctions against Icelandic fishing interests linked to whaling





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Clare Perry

Senior Campaigner

  • Hinrik Steinsson

    I think this is insane. You have no idea what is going on in Iceland. Do you relaze that there 12 species of whales around the Icelandic coast line and that I celanders only hunt the 2 common spices? And since the previous ban on whaling the most common types have grown so much in population that the once that are actually indangered are even more in danger?

    You preach that the US should impose sanctions on Iceland over this, but you should not be throwing rocks when living in a glass house. USA is not angel when it comes to international crime, like say illigal CIA prisons!

    • eia

      Hello Hinrik

      Thanks for taking the trouble to respond.

      To answer your first point, EIA has a clear picture of what is going on in Iceland in regard to its hunting of, and trade in, endangered fin whales, as a result of our extensive research and on-the-ground investigations.

      We are most emphatically not judging Iceland as a culture, which is why we are not campaigning for broad sanctions against the country as a whole but are instead seeking targeted sanctions against those commercial interests concerned with the unsustainable exploitation of the fin whale.