EIA at 40 – urging governments and retailers to act over Iceland’s slaughter of fin whales


In the countdown to EIA’s 40th anniversary later this year, we are featuring films and stories from our archive, highlighting our work exposing environmental crime and abuse around the world. 

Today — in the week that Japan announced it plans to increase the scope of its whaling activities to include threatened fin whales — we’re sharing a flashback to a film we made in 2014 to accompany an Ocean team report on Iceland’s slaughter of the species.

Slayed in Iceland, produced in collaboration with our partners Animal Welfare Institute and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, exposed the scale of the annual hunts of fin whales by notorious multi-millionaire rogue whaler Kristján Loftsson and his company Hvalur hf.

It also revealed the extent of the related overseas trade, as well as the financial and logistical links between the whalers and some of Iceland’s largest companies.

At the time, Iceland’s fin whale meat exports were worth an estimated $50 million and clearly undermined both the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on whaling and the ban on international commercial trade in fin whale products imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Clare Perry, then Ocean Campaign Leader, said: “Since 2006, Hvalur has killed more than 500 fin whales, purely to cash in on a limited demand in Japan. It has exported more than 5,000 tonnes of fin whale products to Japan, including a record single shipment of 2,071 tonnes in 2014.

“This ongoing and escalating slaughter is not only a contemptuous slap in the face to international efforts to conserve whales, it’s a spreading bloodstain on Iceland’s international credibility and it needs to end now.”

Slayed in Iceland urged the IWC, governments and businesses dealing with Icelandic companies linked to whaling to take action to compel Iceland to cease commercial whaling and trade.