Changing minds in Iceland

Press release - 5 July, 2004
According to a new opinion poll (1) conducted in Iceland by the IMG Gallup for Greenpeace and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), support for the resumption of whaling has declined.

The poll asked: "Are you in favour or against Icelanders starting whale hunting again?" Results show that over a third of Icelandic people, traditionally a whaling nation, no longer support whaling.

Since April 2003, the percentage of Icelandic people in favour of whaling has dropped from 74.6% to 67.3%. During the same period, the number of people opposed to whaling has increased from 12.3% to 15.2% and the proportion of those who are undecided has increased from 13.1% to 17.4%

"This shows that domestic opinion on whaling in Iceland is changing and is on the decline. Whale meat consumption is rapidly decreasing and the domestic tourism industry is coming out strongly against whaling," said Frode Pleym of Greenpeace International.

The Icelandic Government recently announced that it will put its so-called 'scientific' whaling programme on hold and limit this year's take to 25 minke whales, down from the planned quota of 250 minke, sei and fin whales.(2) "The Government of Iceland should react wisely to public opinion and cancel its 'scientific' whaling programme altogether," added Pleym.

For many years, Greenpeace was considered an enemy of Iceland, following earlier controversial actions to stop Icelandic whaling. By contrast, this year the Greenpeace ship, MV Esperanza, which is currently in Iceland (3) urging people to 'Choose the future, not whaling', has been visited by the President of Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament.

Last autumn, Greenpeace launched the 'Pledge' campaign to show the potential economic and environmental gains to be had by choosing sustainable tourism over whaling. Over 57,000 people around the world have pledged to seriously consider a vacation in Iceland, rather than elsewhere, if it stops whaling. (4)

Notes: (1) The sample size of the Gallup poll was 1274 and the proportion of those whoresponded was nearly 63%. Women, urban citizens and the younger generation tend to oppose whaling more frequently than others. For instance, less than 50% of the age group between 16 and 24 years "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree" with resuming whaling. The full poll results are available on request.(2) Onboard the Esperanza are Greenpeace activists from 17 countries.Read more about the Esperanza tour and updates from cyber-activists Marnee Benson and Tope Akintola who won berths on the ship through promoting the Greenpeace Pledge and are assisting Greenpeace during the Icelandic whaling tour.(4) Through the Greenpeace website and other communications to our supporters, we ask people around the world to participate in protecting vulnerable areas and species through appropriate opportunities, including visiting Iceland.Read more:http://www.icelandwhalespledge.comThe economic value of whale watching in Iceland and Iceland history of commercial whaling in Iceland