IFAW: Shamed whale meat rejected by ports and cargo companies is returned to Iceland

Unwanted whale meat arrived back in Iceland overnight after ports and cargo companies refused to play a part in its shameful passage to Japan. As the cargo vessel Pioneer Bay approached Reykjavik harbour it was joined by two whale watching vessels with Icelandic supporters of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) on board. They carried a large banner asking “What’s the point?” of Icelandic whaling.  They also held up large placards depicting pointing hands.

Lone whaler Kristjan Loftsson resumed the cruel practice of harpooning endangered fin whales in Iceland in June after a three-year hiatus and soon after, meat from the slaughtered whales was packaged in containers and beginning its long and expensive journey to Japan, its only possible, albeit very limited, marketplace.

When a whaling boat brought ashore the first slaughtered fin whale of the season in Iceland last month, it was met by protesters from both home and abroad, disgusted that whales are being killed for products such as dog food.

Opposition grew with the Port of Rotterdam declaring it wanted no part in the whale meat trade after containers from Icelandic cargo company Samskip were found to include whale meat while transiting the port. More than one million people recently signed a petition against the trade in whale meat and Samskip has since issued a statement declaring it wants no part in the whale meat business.

The meat provoked a similar response at Hamburg Port where the cargo was removed and examined. Transport company Evergreen Line declined to take the containers on to Japan, also declaring it wanted no part in the whale meat trade and saying it had believed the cargo to be frozen fish. The containers were then sent back to Iceland.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Quite apart from the fact that there is no humane way to kill whales, we have long maintained that it is illogical to continue whaling for a dying market and in the face of huge international opposition.

“Now we hear reports from Iceland that Mr Loftsson plans to keep killing these endangered animals despite having no available means of transport. This is utterly ludicrous. It is time for the Icelandic government to look at the effect this man’s actions are having and take steps to stop him further harpooning the country’s economy and reputation.”

Iceland is one of Europe’s top destinations for whale watching and last year attracted 175,000 whale watchers. Around 50 fin whales have reportedly been caught so far this season from a quota of 154. There is also a quota for 216 minke whales.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Robbie Marsland at IFAW on mobile +44 (0)7801 613534. Alternatively contact Sigursteinn Masson in Iceland on 00354 8638361 or email sigursteinnmasson@gmail.com

For latest images and footage please contact Robbie Marsland on 07801 613 534 email rmarsland@ifaw.org or for stock images and footage visit www.ifawimages.com

Notes to editors:

Kristjan Loftsson, whose operation was responsible for slaughtering 280 fin whales in Icelandic waters in recent years, cancelled hunts in 2011 and 2012, laying off whaling staff and citing difficulties in trading the meat with Japan following its tsunami tragedy.

He regularly exports relatively small amounts of fin whale meat to his own company in Japan, but has yet to find great demand for the meat on the Japanese market.

Seven fin whales were killed in Iceland’s waters in 2006, 125 in 2009 and 148 in 2010.

A five-year fin whaling quota was granted covering 2009 to 2013, with an allowance that any unused quota could feasibly be carried over to 2014.

Minke whaling in Iceland, which has focussed on a limited domestic and tourism market, is also dwindling. Last year, 52 minke whales were killed, despite a catch limit of 216. The annual minke whaling season opened in May.

IFAW is continuing its ‘Meet Us Don’t Eat Us’ campaign in Iceland, encouraging tourists visiting the country to support responsible whale watching but to avoid sampling whale meat.

Iceland is at risk of diplomatic action by the United States over its commercial whaling activities.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.