The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been committed to the welfare of whales in Icelandic waters since 1990 when the organisation funded the first feasibility study into the potential for commercial whale watching in Iceland. The idea has always been to create a positive alternative to the cruelty of whaling. Whaling resumed in Iceland in 2003 after a 13-year hiatus. Currently, no fin whaling takes place but minke whaling continues, in part driven by tourist demand for whale meat which is sampled in Icelandic restaurants.
Meet Us Don’t Eat Us
Meet Us Dont Eat Us is a joint project between IFAW and IceWhale, the Icelandic Whale Watching Association, that was launched in Reykjavik in the summer of 2011. So far around 500 volunteers from 30 countries have participated in the project which runs mainly from May to September each year in Reykjavik. In the summer of 2017 up to 30 ViVe volunteers will participate in the project.
To date, we have collected more than 100,000 signatures from tourists and Icelanders pledging to not eat whale meat and calling for the cruel and unnecessary whale hunt to end. We have regularly delivered these signatures to the Minister of Fisheries to underline international and Icelandic opposition to whaling.
Currently, all Icelandic minke whaling takes place in Faxaflói Bay, off the coast of Reykjavik. Most of the whale watching takes place in these same waters. Whaling harms whale watching as well as whales. All political parties in Reykjavik have asked the government to declare Faxaflói Bay a sanctuary.
Please show your support for this campaign by signing your name here.
The aim is to end whaling in Iceland
We inform and educate tourists about the facts regarding whale meat consumption in Iceland and appeal for their support to end commercial whaling instead of contributing to it by tasting whale meat in Reykjavik restaurants. In reality, whale meat consumption is not that common and whale hunting is not a traditional activity in Iceland. Commercial whaling actually started only in 1948 with the company Hvalur inc. in Hvalfjordur. Before that most of the whaling around Iceland was conducted by Norwegians, English, Danish, Dutch, Basques and others..
Positive campaign that shows the sustainable way to enjoy whales is by whale watching
Meet Us Don’t Eat Us is a positive campaign because although this is a serious subject we want to approach tourists and also Icelanders in a constructive way, pointing out that the best sustainable way to enjoy whales is by responsible whale watching. By distributing informative material, promoting whale friendly restaurants and collecting signatures we regularly hand to the Minister of Fisheries urging him to stop whaling and encourage people to support whale watching, we are making people better aware how much their choices matter.
Whale watching and whale killing do not go together
All of of the minke whales killed in Iceland are harpooned close to the whale watching area in Faxaflói Bay outside Reykjavik. These whales will never be seen again by people going whale watching. IceWhale and its members are concerned about this issue and have therefore worked closely with IFAW on its campaigns.
Success as whale meat consumption in Iceland falls
So far surveys show whale meat consumption by tourists is down by more than half since our project started, but we aim to further reduce this. You can help by choosing a whale friendly restaurant. When you are dining in the downtown Reykjavik area or at the old harbour 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.
Not a tradition and few locals eat it, so why should tourists do so?
Since 2004 IFAW has carried out regular polling which shows clear progress in reaching Icelanders with our message that whales are worth more alive than dead. In 2016, only 1.5% of Icelanders said they had eaten whale meat six times or more a year; 81% said they had never eaten it.
We have come far in recent years to reach the goal of ending commercial whaling in Iceland. Please help our campaign to protect whales. Thank you!