Iceland abandons major part of whaling programme

Press release - 2 June, 2004
The Icelandic government will put their so called scientific whaling programme on hold and limit this years take to 25 minke whales.This is as close to a victory as we could have hoped for, said Greenpeace spokesperson Frode Pleym.

The Icelandic government will put their so called "scientific" whaling programme on hold and limit this years take to 25 minke whales. The planned take of 500 whales, including sei and fin during a 2 year period, have been cancelled, due to a strong domestic criticism combined with the lack of a market for whale products.

A total of 36 minke whales have been caught since last year when Iceland, despite massive global protests, resumed whaling again for the first time in 14 years. (1)

-This is a step in the right direction, said Greenpeace spokesperson Frode Pleym. The Government of Iceland has made a wise decision, that will benefit the Icelandic people in the future. By choosing a truly sustainable future path, Iceland sets an example for other whaling nations to follow.

The market for whale meat is small and decreasing in whaling nations Iceland, Norway and Japan due to changed eating habits and the level of environmental toxins in the whale products. Iceland still has an ample supply of whale meat left since last years take and no future market in sight.

The growing domestic opposition also came as a surprise to the Government. The Icelandic tourist association and the whale watching operators have made it clear that a restart of whaling in Iceland will damage the reputation of the nation and decrease the amount of tourists visiting. Tourism has become one of the major sources of income in Iceland in recent years and whale watching attracts around 72,000 tourists yearly and is worth more than $14.6 million USD a year to the Icelandic economy.

- Greenpeace will keep following the whaling issue until the Icelandic government puts a final stop to this industry of the past. The Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza will visit Iceland again this summer and we will be campaigning at the annual IWC-meeting in Italy in July for the moratorium on whaling to be respected, said Pleym.

Last autumn Greenpeace launched an offer to the Icelandic Government showing the clear economic and environmental gain in choosing sustainable tourism over whaling. By taking a pledge people worldwide pledged to consider a vacation in Iceland if whaling was stopped. Today over 50 000 people have taken the pledge representing 58,3 million USD in tourism value versus 4 million USD from commercial whaling at its peak. (2)

Notes: (1) 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 on