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Taryn Kiekow Heimer’s Blog

Don't Buy From Icelandic Whalers

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Posted May 16, 2014

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NRDC, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and other groups in the “Whales Need US” coalition recently launched a new campaign called Don’t Buy from Icelandic Whalers

The goal: Put the economic squeeze on Icelandic whaling by shutting off U.S. seafood markets to companies tied to the whaling industry. 

The target: We are urging major U.S. wholesalers and retailers that source Icelandic seafood not to buy fish from specific Icelandic companies – like HB Grandi – which are tied to whaling. 


HB Grandi is Iceland’s largest seafood company and has long-standing ties to Iceland’s whaling industry. The company is controlled by the whaling and investment company Hvalur hf.  For instance, the Chair of HB Grandi’s  Board, Kristjan Loftsson, is both the CEO and a lead shareholder of Hvalur hf.  Once Hvalur whaling boats kill endangered fin whales, the whale meat is then transported from the Hvalur whaling station to HB Grandi facilities, where it is cut, packaged, boxed and made ready for export to Japan.

In response to the campaign’s letters and inquiries, High Liner Foods – a leading North American seafood company – announced that it would not purchase products sourced from HB Grandi. High Liner Foods affirmed in a statement that the company is “not supportive of any commercial whaling or trade in whale products” and committed not to enter into any new contracts with HB Grandi until that company has “fully divested their involvement and interest in whaling.”

Whole Foods Market also cancelled contracts with a subsidiary of HB Grandi.

And Trader Joe’s issued a strong statement against commercial whaling, pledging also to undertake an audit of its supply chain to ensure it is not sourcing from companies linked to whaling operations in Iceland or elsewhere.

NRDC and others have been calling on the Obama Administration to impose exactly this type of economic punch since 2010, when we and other members of the Whales Need US coalition filed a petition under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Protective Act to impose targeted sanctions against Icelandic companies tied to whaling. In response, the Secretary of Commerce certified Iceland in 2011 for violating the global ban on commercial whaling, and the Secretary of the Interior certified Iceland in 2014 for its trade in endangered fin whales. President Obama imposed diplomatic sanctions against Iceland in both 2011 and 2014.

But any pressure on the Icelandic whaling industry is good news for the whales, which are still in high danger of Iceland’s harpoons.  Iceland killed 35 minke whales and 134 endangered fin whales in 2013 alone, and it announced last December that it would allow commercial whaling to continue for at least the next five years – authorizing up to 770 endangered fin whales to be killed.

This is why we will continue to pressure U.S. companies to ensure that they are not inadvertently supporting Icelandic whaling through their – and, ultimately, our – seafood purchases.  For more information and to see what you can do, visit the coalition website, which provides details of the Icelandic companies that hunt—or are linked to those that hunt—whales and the U.S. companies that may be buying from them.


Image courtesy of the Don't Buy From Icelandic Whalers website.

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Ken WertzMay 19 2014 02:12 PM

I vote with my dollars, and my feet. I will not buy ANY product from any company that does business with this company.
Please provide all of us a list with those companies to boycott....

gloria taberMay 19 2014 02:37 PM

I'm with Ken all the way. We need to know who to boycott in order to save these beautiful creatures!

joan dobbsMay 19 2014 03:44 PM

Clicked on link at bottom of article - "DontBuyFromIcelandicWhalers" - and got a copy of a letter from High Liner Foods. No "information on what you can do" as promised. Any ideas?

Joan Dobbs

Suzanne CernyMay 19 2014 03:46 PM

I am in favor of getting out the word to the citizens of the United States that the most favorable way to peacefully end a problem of corporations who demonize the planet, is to boycott their products.

It is becoming apparent that the same people who despise big government are the very ones who are creating giant unwanted and unprecedented government policies which demonize the people who are able to take care of themselves.

pascale finkeldeyMay 19 2014 07:12 PM

Yes please provide the list of all companies to boycott,

Roxana AvilesMay 19 2014 07:31 PM

These are amazing creatures! '
I refuse to have anything to do with their demise.
Please sign me up to keep fishermen from killing them.
At this time I have no $ but want to use my name if it helps.
Thanks for all you do for all animals of our beautiful planet.

Lisa AndradeMay 20 2014 12:07 AM

We need to save and protect these majestic creatures. Whaling needs to end.

Taryn Kiekow HeimerMay 20 2014 11:58 AM

Thank you for all the positive comments – and support!

I apologize for inserting the wrong link to the coalition website (I’ve fixed that mistake in the blog.) Here is the correct link to the Don’t Buy From Icelandic Whalers website:

Here is a link to the major US seafood wholesalers that purchase from HB Grandi or its subsidiaries:

And here is a link to what you can do:

In terms of what you can do, please inquire with your local supermarket to see whether they buy their fish from HB Grandi, its subsidiaries, or any of the wholesalers (see link above) that source seafood from companies linked to Hvular or HB Grandi.

The coalition has written to over 30 retailers in the US, urging them to audit their supply chain to ensure that they are not buying fish from companies linked to whaling.

While High Liner Foods and Whole Foods Market have indicated that they will not proceed with contracts with Hvalur-linked companies until commercial whaling in Iceland ends and both High Liner Foods and Trader Joe’s have pledged their opposition to commercial whaling, many other companies, including Target, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, Fresh and Easy, and United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), have failed to respond to the coalition’s request.

Until we know definitively which retailers may source from HB Grandi companies, we cannot give a list of markets to boycott – yet. Stay tuned. But since Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s both responded positively, I would recommend buying fish from either place.

You can also write to Iceland's ambassador to the United States, politely expressing your opposition to Iceland's whaling policy: Ambassador Gudmundur Stefansson at or by mail to: Embassy of Iceland, Washington D.C., House of Sweden, 2900 K Street N.W. #509, Washington DC 20007-1704.

In addition, please write to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to express your views: President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson at or by mail to: Sóleyjargata 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland.

Jenifer KlattMay 20 2014 12:55 PM

It saddens me to know that whaling still continues today and that Japan and Iceland have no regard for animals, either endangered or not.

Indeed, the people have the power and it is incumbent upon us to boycott these companies who continue to slaughter whales and dophins for profit. The only way to help the whales and animals of all kinds, is to be educated and make our voices heard that we will NOT buy or support these companies who continue to ignore the voices of the people.

Lets all stand together and end these barbaric killings!!!

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