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Taryn Kiekow Heimer’s Blog

Icelandic Whalers Draw Blood, Kill the First Fin Whale of the Season

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Posted June 18, 2014

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In the face of international condemnation, yesterday Icelandic whalers kicked off the 2014 commercial whaling season by killing an endangered fin whale.

Fin whales are known as the "greyhound of the sea" for their speed.  They are the world’s second largest animal and are listed as an endangered species

Fin Whale NOAA 2.jpg

Despite the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) ban on commercial whaling, Iceland has unilaterally allocated itself a license to kill at least 154 fin whales every year for the next five years.  All of the fin whale meat is then exported to Japan, in defiance of a ban on international trade in fin whales under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Iceland has faced increasing international pressure for its rogue whaling. 

Former Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke certified Iceland in 2011 under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Protective Act for its continued slaughter of whales. In a letter to President Obama, he said that “Iceland, by permitting its nationals to engage in commercial whaling and exporting endangered fin whale meat, is diminishing the effectiveness of the IWC conservation program.”

President Obama enacted diplomatic sanctions against Iceland in September 2011.

More recently, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell certified that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the CITES.  In a press release, she said that “Iceland’s whaling activities undermine [] worldwide efforts to conserve whales.”

President Obama enacted another series of diplomatic directives against Iceland in April 2014. Notably, Iceland was not invited to participate in the “Our Ocean” Conference hosted this week by Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, D.C. 

The squeeze isn’t just coming from diplomatic circles.  In response to the “Don’t Buy from Icelandic Whalers” campaign launched by NRDC, the Animal Welfare Institute and others, High Liner Foods – a leading North American seafood company – announced that it would not purchase products sourced from HB Grandi. 

HB Grandi is Iceland’s largest seafood company and has long-standing ties to Iceland’s whaling industry.

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.

Given this increasing international censure, what will it take for Hvular – Iceland’s only fin whaling company – to finally call it quits?  Iceland is a remarkably progressive country in other areas, so why continue to risk its reputation by promoting commercial whaling and trade in whale meat in violation of international treaties?

I don’t have the answers but do know we will continue our fight to end commercial whaling in Iceland. Click here to make your voice heard.


Photo Credit: NOAA.

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Jan PfeiferJun 19 2014 02:41 PM

This is inexcusable in this day and age. This is an endangered species!!

Barbara McCormackJun 19 2014 02:42 PM

Please help stop the killing of fin whales. We mustn't let these beautiful creatures become extinct.

katherine rostenJun 19 2014 02:45 PM

I can't believe that Iceland could be so cold-hearted to allow themselves to hunt and kill at lest 154 fin whales/year for the next 5 years despite the ban on trade of them internationally. Have you no conscience Iceland?

Nicholas CasacchiaJun 19 2014 02:48 PM


Kenneth ChainJun 19 2014 02:52 PM

The moral fiber of a nation can be measured by the way they treat animals.

Alan GatesJun 19 2014 03:12 PM

Please stop whaling! The world is watching!

pablo gardunoJun 19 2014 03:15 PM

please stop this horrible situation.

Richard IgnelziJun 19 2014 03:18 PM

In these crazy times of war and world problems. Please find a little time to address this very disturbing news about Iceland and there deliberate practice of killing these endangered animals. It's disgusting and extremely sad, and should not be tolerated. Thank you very much.

Rosa mcgeehinJun 19 2014 03:21 PM

Stop this killing NOW.....

Kelly J. HawleyJun 19 2014 03:33 PM

How many more species do we have to see destroyed? This make me ashamed to be a human.

Catherine KingJun 19 2014 03:49 PM

Senseless and wrong!!

Janet degraveJun 19 2014 03:54 PM

Stop killing whales!!!! Save our marine life!!!!

autumn glaeseJun 19 2014 04:19 PM

Cruel and Unnecessary, needs to stop!

Beth DuffJun 19 2014 04:36 PM

Let me know what I can do to help.

Linda CummingsJun 19 2014 04:54 PM

Horrific !No respect for animals or the law. Makes no sense to kill such a beautiful creature.

Kathryn JonesJun 19 2014 05:36 PM

This needs to be stopped. They are on the endangered list. This brakes my heart.

Alene SmalleyJun 19 2014 06:37 PM


Melody Shealy Jun 19 2014 06:38 PM

Please stop this insanity!

Ray MunizJun 19 2014 08:40 PM

This has to stop now. This kind of thinking is no longer tolerable by the majority. Even stricter sanctions should be issue to Iceland.

Mary PeggJun 19 2014 09:26 PM

Stop this disgraceful act. Come on. When will u wake up. These are majestic mammals and won't be around with all the useless killing. Stop this now.

Connie Rae aldrichJun 19 2014 09:38 PM

Save the whales. Please

Greg RollJun 19 2014 09:46 PM

I was thinking of visiting Iceland, it seemed such a civilized country. Now I would never go there.

Yael avrahamJun 19 2014 11:05 PM


Jacqui skillJun 19 2014 11:09 PM

Please strongly sanction any countries killing our already endangered whales.

Stewart WiggersJun 19 2014 11:49 PM

Icelanders, please demonstrate against your whalers vociferously!

Thank You!

Charles PolepJun 20 2014 01:52 AM

Please increase the sanctions on any country that is ignoring our current sanctions for killing of endangered whales.

JeannetteJun 20 2014 02:21 AM

Please stop killing this sea animals

Lisa JamesJun 20 2014 02:42 AM

Really! It's 2014, get with the program. The ocean sustains the planet. Where is the respect. Can't man leave these creatures alone and allow them life! What they deserve! Is man a more important life form than these beautiful animals that have been around long before he could throw a spear. Wake up and give them a break. The Viking age is over.

Sandra WaltersJun 20 2014 03:09 AM

Please Mr President stop this tragedy lm Australian but we are all in this world together

Jeff DouglassJun 20 2014 08:24 AM

Please help stop this murder.

Karin StrongJun 20 2014 08:55 AM

Do not kill ANY whales, whether they are endangered or not! BTW, I think Icelanders also eat whale steak, so I don't think ALL whale meat is carted off to Japan. Sadly, it's a cultural thing.

Jacqui MeadowsJun 21 2014 11:01 AM

I cannot believe that 21st century politicians/government have still not learned the lessons of compassion or the need for it , without it you won't just lose your followers you will lose and throw away the very thing that keeps us all alive and thriving by destroying the planet and its inhabitants through your thoughtless lack of care and understanding about WHY human kind exists - with reference to the Native American Indian saying - what will you do once you have allowed the environment to be poisened and the animals that live within it to be killed for profit and pleasure . You can try eating the money but how will that one turn out ?

Jenny HaneyJun 21 2014 02:59 PM

This needs to be stopped

shelva woodJun 23 2014 03:49 PM

There is one of the millionaires who lives there & has a contract w/japan, he will supply all the whale meat, ship it all to Japan & they make DOG & CAT FOOD OUT OF IT. SICK, DEMENTED, COLDBLOODED BASTARD!!

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