Visit Iceland: Save Whales

Feature story - 11 February, 2004
Despite the international ban on whaling, its spectre is looming on the horizon following the Icelandic Government's announcement to start a so-called 'scientific' whaling programme. Join our Iceland Travel Pledge to help stop the program.

By promoting whale watching more people will get the chance to see Whales in their natural environment

Whales are just beginning to recover from years of exploitation. During the last century, commercial whaling decimated most of the world's whale populations. Despite this on 6 August 2003, the Government of Iceland announced that 38 minke whales would be taken as the start of a so-called 'scientific' whaling program.

It outlined a program that would expand to take a total 500 whales, including sei and fin whales as well as minkes, in 2004 and 2005. The Icelandic Government would like to begin full-scale commercial whaling in 2006, which could could seriously deplete the minke whale population.

Many people - including us - believe that the Government of Iceland should look to other forms of economic development, such as tourism, which respects rather than kills whales.

Cyber warriors

We launched our first anti-whaling campaign in 1975, confronting the whalers on the high seas. This time we are campaigning online through the Iceland Travel Pledge with the help of our cyberactivist community, which now has over 160,000 members from more than 250 countries and territories. We have made an offer to the Icelandic government to promote Iceland as a nature tourism destination, if the decision to recommence whaling is reversed.

In January we set a goal of getting 50,000 pledges which has a potential tourist value of US$77 million. Today we are over halfway there; more than 25,500 people have pledged to visit Iceland if the government ends plans to renew hunting. Our mission is to get the 50,000 pledges by June, to achieve this we need even more people to pledge and for them to recruit more online activists.

Register here today and take part in the Iceland Pledge Challenge and help stop the Icelandic Government before it is too late. The challenge is to get as many people as you know to take the Icelandic Travel Pledge, meaning that your friends add their name.

To show our appreciation for your campaigning a berth aboard one of our boats is being made available to send a hard working cyberactivist to Iceland to see the whales firsthand and help us to take part in the dialogue and meetings with the Icelandic Government and people. One of the selection criteria to get onto the boat is that he or she will be chosen from among the top ten pledge-pomoters.

Look but don't touch

It is not just us who believe that whale watching is preferable both economically and environmentally to whale hunting. An increasing number of Icelanders believe that their country will attract more visitors by positioning it as the land of the living whale, and want to see the hunt stopped.

Whale watching is classified as 'eco-tourism' because, when conducted properly, it is benign and allows people to enjoy nature while having a negligible impact on it. Within Iceland, whale watching is already popular and a major tourist industry. It is estimated that about a dozen whale watching companies have been started in Iceland in the last ten years, generating US$8.5 million in 2001.

Globally, it already generates a staggering US$1 billion in direct revenue per year. This clearly shows the economic advantage for Iceland to choose this pathway over whaling in the future as during its peak year Icelandic whaling only generated US$4 million.

Whale watching also provides opportunities for genuine research and promotes an appreciation of the marine environment and conservation issues. It is now so popular with tourists that it has become far more profitable than whaling ever was.

Take Action

Take the pledge

If you are a registered cyberactivist join the pledge challenge

Send an e-card to a friend or five

For more information on Icelandic Whaling

Read our dedicated site

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Help Iceland choose eco-tourism not whaling

Dolphins die in trawler nets