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New whale protection campaign urges tourists visiting Iceland to avoid eating whale meat


Tourists visiting Iceland this summer will be targeted in a highly visible campaign asking them to protect whales by avoiding eating whale meat.

Launched on the 4th June with the slogan ‘Meet Us Don’t Eat Us’, the project by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Icelandic Whale Watching Association (Icewhale), encourages tourists to enjoy whales in the wild on whale watching trips, rather than sampling whale meat in restaurants.

To promote whale watching in Iceland, Planet Whale will be featuring Icelandic Whale Watch Operators exclusively on our home page this week, as well as listing them at the top of our search results for whale and dolphin watching trips! 

IFAW opposes whaling because it is inherently cruel – there is no humane way to kill a whale. While many people believe whale meat is a popular dish enjoyed by most Icelanders, only about 5% of Icelanders claim to eat it regularly.*

IFAW’s UK Director Robbie Marsland said: “Despite the cruelty involved in whaling and limited appetite for whale meat among Icelanders, we are concerned that an estimated 40% of tourists are persuaded to eat whale meat under the mistaken belief that it is a traditional Icelandic dish. This means that whales are killed each year just to be sampled by curious tourists.

“We hope that our Meet Us Don’t Eat Us campaign will encourage visitors to Iceland to think about the menu choices they make in the country’s excellent restaurants to ensure they don’t go home with a bad taste in their mouths.”

Following a launch event in Reykjavik’s Old Harbour tomorrow evening for politicians, restaurateurs, tourism representatives and other invited guests, the Meet Us Don’t Eat Us slogan will appear in adverts in Keflavik Airport and around the capital in newspapers and on buses. In addition, volunteers dressed as whales will distribute leaflets and talk to tourists in downtown Reykjavik from June to August. Leaflets will also be distributed to other tourist hotspots in Iceland.

Rannveig Grétarsdóttir, Chair of Icewhale, said: “Every year we welcome thousands of tourists onto our whale watching boats to enjoy the amazing spectacle of whales and other marine life around our coastline. This is the only sustainable use of whales.”

* Gallup poll, June 2010.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Sigursteinn Masson at IFAW in Iceland on 00 354 863836100 354 8638361 , email or Clare Sterling on +44 (0)7917 507717+44 (0)7917 507717 , email

Additional information

Iceland’s commercial whaling started in 1948 and stopped in 1989, with a few boats resuming minke whaling in 2003, initially for so-called scientific research.

The killing of endangered Fin Whales for commercial reasons began in Iceland in 2006, provoking international outcry. Fin Whales have continued to be harpooned in Iceland since 2008, with a view to selling the meat to Japan, but so far this has had little success. Last month it was announced that this year’s fin whaling season would be delayed and staff laid off because of problems trading the meat.

About IFAW (the 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

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