The Whaler Watching Programme is a non-profit animal rights advocacy initiative with the aim to educate the public about the senseless and cruel slaughter of whales in Icelandic waters.

Members of the non-profit marine conservation organisation Hard To Port e.V. launched Whaler Watching in 2014.

Please follow us for live updates on Instagram or visit our Blog.
This website contains images of animal cruelty that some visitor may find disturbing.

Commercial Whaling
In Iceland

Iceland is one of three nations in the world that still allow the commercial killing of the great whales. Despite an international agreement to set all commercial whaling quotas to zero, known as the moratorium on commercial whaling from 1982, the Icelandic government allows whalers to kill 154 endangered fin whales and up to 229 minke whales annually.

Since only about 3% of Icelanders regularly consume whale meat, most of the meat is either exported overseas to the Japanese market (fin whale meat) or distributed and offered to tourists coming to Iceland (minke whale meat).

Ever since Iceland resumed its commercial whaling operations in 2006, the killing of whales in Iceland has been met with opposition. As a result of growing national and international opposition, in February 2016 the highly controversial fin whale hunt was suspended and hasn’t been carried out during the past two whaling seasons.

While this was a major victory for the whales and those who have actively campaigned for their protection, it is only a partial victory. The hunt for the smaller minke whales in Iceland’s coastal waters continues unabated. Minke whales, a comparatively small baleen whale, can often be seen during popular whale watching tours around the country. Their meat is also often offered in restaurants and supermarkets and ironically labelled as an “Icelandic speciality”, despite the fact that whale meat is not popular among Icelanders.

The Invisible Industry

Icelandic whaling has been described and referred to as an “Invisible Industry”. While most Icelanders (73%) want the killing of whales to be carried out in a “humane manner”, in reality not much is known about the controversial hunt itself. Whaling operations are carried out far off the coast where the brutal reality of these killing operations is largely shielded from public scrutiny.

Until we launched our Whaler Watching initiative, virtually all of the official data about the Icelandic whaling operations came from the key players: first and foremost, the industry itself or its political allies in the Icelandic government.

As a result, public opinion about whaling in Iceland was very much shaped by those who have a vested economic interest in its continuation. The remoteness of the hunt and the fact that for years the whaling industry and its lobby has held a quasi-monopoly on the information about the annual hunt have made it very easy for the Icelandic whaling industry to spread the message that the animals are killed “humanely”.

This self-serving claim has been debunked by both scientists and former whalers who all agree that there is no humane way to kill these sentient and intelligent animals at sea. After the animals are struck with an explosive-tipped harpoon, a long, agonizing and ultimately futile struggle for survival begins that can take up to 20 minutes (in some cases even longer). In other words: The claim that whales are killed humanely is nothing but a perfidious lie.

Our Approach

Education / Outreach:

Education plays a key role in our efforts to bring an end to the acceptance and toleration of commercial whaling in Iceland. Since the launch of our initiative in 2015, the Whaler Watching team has had the chance to exchange opinions and information with many people from the local community, among them whale watching companies, Icelandic activists, but mostly ordinary citizen who gave us their view on the whaling issue.

Together with the friendly support of the Icelandic Vegan & Vegetarian Society we organized a screening of our campaign documentary 184 (www.184film.com by Blackrabbit Images), followed by a presentation to introduce our work and young initiative to a local audience. In 2016 we handed out hundreds of informative leaflets around the country to educate mostly tourists about the negative aspects of commercial whaling in Iceland and why their actions and choices play an important role for the welfare of whales in Iceland.

We know from both our surveys and personal encounters that Icelanders and tourists alike care deeply about animal welfare. By building a strong and diverse coalition we want to show those people in Iceland who speak out against the whaling industry that they are not alone and that they can count on the support from like-minded individuals from many countries.

Exposure (Documentation & Monitoring):

We launched our Whaler Watching campaign with the aim of drawing attention to the annual carnage of Icelandic wildlife and in order to challenge the existing information monopoly that serves the interests of the whaling industry at the expense of the truth.

We believe that legally-obtained detailed documentation and media coverage has the potential to kick-start a much-needed public debate on the defensibility of commercial whaling in Iceland. Our initiative focuses primarily on the gathering and distribution of comprehensive data on the whaling operations.

Our goal is to mobilize more people to raise their voice in defense of these vulnerable animal species.Through land-based and sea-based documentation as well as aerial monitoring our campaign team visually captures the whaling operations in all their bloody cruelty and ecological madness.

Protest  (raising (media) awareness through non-violent protest):

Even though the protagonists of Iceland’s whaling industry are some powerful and influential people who have direct ties to the current government, we won’t let the cruel killing of some of nature’s most fascinating animals happen unchallenged.

In addition to our educational work, our initiative also organises peaceful resistance actions against the inhumane treatment of these animals where and when such actions help to highlight and expose these activities to the public.

Take Action

1. Responsible tourism = please leave whale meat off your plate

Iceland currently experiences an unprecedented tourism boom. While we share the interest and desire to explore this fascinating country, we need to acknowledge that the influx of visitors from overseas also leads to rising strains on the environment, including the decimation of Icelandic wildlife through whaling.

The hunt for minke whales continues because tourists are curious to try what is, falsely, marketed to them as a “traditional Icelandic delicacy”. This, however, means that when the buying stops, it is only a matter of time before the killing stops too. If you or someone you know is planning a trip to Iceland, you can play an active and important role in bringing the cruel killing of whales to an end by leaving whale meat off your plate.

By boycotting whale meat and other whale products, you will make a contribution to the preservation of Iceland’s precious wildlife.

2. Join our efforts to make the killing of whales visible

Take matters into your own hands! We encourage the public to join our efforts and help us make whaling operations visible for everyone. Join us in keeping the pressure up on the Icelandic whaling industry both from within Iceland and from without. Once the public has a better understanding of the practice of killing a whale at sea, we hope this form of animal abuse will no longer be silently tolerated.

If you want to get involved with our initiative, please get in touch and send us an email at volunteer@whalerwatching.org

3. Financial Support & Material Support

The Whaler Watching Initiative is run entirely by passionate volunteers who dedicate their leisure time to this important cause. As a non-profit initiative, the success of our efforts greatly depends on donations. If you think that our approach is worth supporting, we would appreciate any financial contribution towards our work to protect the whales in Iceland.

We also greatly appreciate donations of equipment that will enable our team to enhance our documentation and outreach work. Please have a look at our Amazon Wishlist and see if you can help us to acquire some of the gear listed.

4. Spread the word

Social media is a very effective tool for spreading the word about our initiative and work to protect the whales in Iceland. We invite you to follow us on our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and Instagram and leave a ‘like’, a comment or a question.

We also look forward to hearing from via email at info@whalerwatching.org. If you care about the fate of Iceland’s whales, please make sure to connect with us and drop us a line.

Team

Contact & Media

General enquiry → info@whalerwatching.org
Media enquiry → media@whalerwatching.org

Mobile: +354-6553496

Our work and documentation footage has been mentioned, among others, on the websites of the following newspapers and magazines:

Download our press release:
“Longest anti-whaling protest in Icelandic history underway, 31.7.2017” incl. 3 photos here (46Mb).

News and live updates

Please visit our Blog for further insides and upcoming events.

Please follow us on Instagram for latest updates:

Merchandise

Some of our supporting friends have helped us to design some amazing campaign related merchandise. If you want to help our important mission by wearing some of our gear, please stop by at the online shop of our friends at Roots Of Compassion. All our shirts and hoodies have been produced under fair labour conditions and are made from 100% organic cotton.