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Iceland’s Government fails to pull the plug on country’s shameful rogue whaling

LONDON: Iceland’s ageing whaling fleet looks set to resume its slaughter this summer as the Government issued a new licence to hunt threatened fin whales.

The decision — announced today by Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Food, Fisheries and Agriculture — follows months of speculation after last year’s hunting season was significantly curtailed due to significant welfare concerns.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which has long exposed the scope and cruelty of the hunts, condemned the move.

EIA Senior Ocean Advisor Clare Perry said: “The Minister had an opportunity here to unambiguously relegate Iceland’s whaling to the history books for good and abide by international law, but has regrettably failed to do so.

“It’s an incomprehensible decision for a supposedly progressive country to take — there is zero economic justification for Iceland’s whaling, even less with Japan’s announcement today that it will add expand its domestic hunt to fin whales. This will badly tarnish Iceland’s international image.”

Fin whales – the second largest creature on the planet – are classified as ‘threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are hunted from Iceland by multi-millionaire rogue whaler Kristján Loftsson and his company Hvalur hf, despite the global moratorium on commercial whaling under the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

His ships sat idle last summer after the Icelandic Government announced on 20 June 2023 that hunting would be suspended after an official report laid bare the appalling cruelty involved.

However, the suspension ended on 31 August and Loftsson resumed whaling for the final few weeks of the season.

Hvalur had applied for a new five-year licence to hunt, but the Government has decided to issue one for a year, allowing for a total of 128 fin whales to be killed.

Perry added: “In simple economic terms, whaling is no longer a remotely viable activity and would likely have ceased years ago were it not for Loftsson’s deep pockets and belligerent insistence on continuing.

“Fin whales deserve to be protected for their uniqueness and for the vital role they and other whales play in helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“They certainly should not be brutally slaughtered, only for their meat to be shipped across the world to end up turned into dog treats in Japan.”



  • Clare Perry, EIA UK Senior Ocean Advisor, via clareperry[at]
  • Paul Newman, EIA UK Senior Press & Communications Officer, via press[at]eia-international.or



  1. EIA investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuse. Its undercover investigations expose transnational wildlife crime, with a focus on elephants, pangolins and tigers and forest crimes such as illegal logging and deforestation for cash crops such as palm oil. It works to safeguard global marine ecosystems by addressing the threats posed by plastic pollution, bycatch and commercial exploitation of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Finally, it works to avert climate catastrophe by strengthening and enforcing regional and international agreements that tackle short-lived climate super-pollutants, including ozone-depleting substances, hydrofluorocarbons and methane, and advocating corporate and policy measures to promote transition to a sustainable cooling sector and away from fossil fuels. It uses its findings in hard-hitting reports to campaign for new legislation, improved governance and more effective enforcement. Its field experience is used to provide guidance to enforcement agencies and it forms partnerships with local groups and activists and support their work through hands-on training.


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