Recent News and Updates

March 15, 2019: The previous strong links between Icelandic seafood company HB Grandi and Iceland's sole fin whaling company, Hvalur, no longer exist.

During the most recent whaling season, Hvalur ceased using a building owned by HB Grandi to process and package whale meat. Last year, two Hvalur-linked companies, Vogun and Fiskiveiðahlutafélagið Venus, sold their HB Grandi shares—representing 34.1 percent of the company—to Brim Seafood (since rebranded as Útgerðarfélag Reykjavíkur). Vogun is almost entirely owned by Hvalur, which in turn is mostly owned by Venus. Hvalur’s CEO, Kristján Loftsson, is the main shareholder in Venus. Halldór Teitsson, a member of Hvalur’s board and a shareholder in Venus, sold his personal shares in HB Grandi. Loftsson and Teitsson left their positions on the HB Grandi board of directors.

The Don't Buy from Icelandic Whalers Coalition would like to thank all of the companies who supported our campaign to end commercial whaling in Iceland. While we welcome the fact that HB Grandi is no longer linked to whaling, our coalition is extremely disappointed by the decision made in February 2019 by Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries Kristján Þór Júlíusson to renew a five-year permit for fin and minke whaling. Until commercial whaling ends, we hope that you will continue to voice your concerns regarding whaling to your seafood suppliers in Iceland.

April 2018: The Hvalur whaling company announced that it will resume hunting endangered fin whales on June 10, following a two-year pause. The director of the company, Kristjan Loftsson, stated that he spent that time researching the use of whale meat, bones, and blubber in such products as iron supplements and medicinal and food additives.

The 2018 quotas set for fin whales in waters around Iceland are the highest in decades. The base quota is 209 fin whales (161 off western Iceland and 48 off the eastern coast), but the numbers killed could go higher if a percentage of the previous year’s unused quota is added. The quota for minke whales has also been set; up to 215 of these smaller whales can be killed in 2018 and, again, previously unused quota might be added.

These quotas are not approved by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and are in defiance of the IWC global moratorium on commercial whaling. Since 2008, Hvalur has shipped more than 8,800 metric tons of whale products to Japan, where the products have been turned into dog treats and sushi.

March 2017: Icelandic media is reporting that, in 2017, for the second year in a row, commercial fin whaling is unlikely to take place. In 2015, the Hvalur whaling company killed 155 endangered fin whales, the highest number since the commercial whaling moratorium took effect. Although no fin whales were killed in 2016, Hvalur still exported more than 3,300 metric tons of fin whale products to Japan over the past two years.

Although positive news for whales, the Don't Buy from Icelandic Whalers coalition will continue to monitor the situation, as fin whaling has stopped temporarily in the past, only to resume. Meanwhile, Icelandic minke whaling is scheduled to restart in April 2017. As many as 264 minke whales could be killed in 2017 based on a quota issued by the Icelandic government; a quota that is inconsistent with and undermines the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission's commercial whaling moratorium.

The coalition would like to thank One Source Proteins for indicating their support for our campaign. In a March 1 message, One Source Proteins stated that it discontinued the importation of products from Friosur S.A. Chile (an HB Grandi subsidiary, a.k.a. Deris S.A.) and does not purchase any HB Grandi products. The company also said that it does not support any commercial whaling or trade in whale products, and requires suppliers not to engage in such activities.

April 25, 2016: First minke whale of the season killed, a 7.9 meter female.

March 15, 2016: In a report to Parliament, Fisheries Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson acknowledges that more than half of the minke whaling companies in Iceland have either stopped whaling or gone bankrupt.

March 10, 2016: US Ambassador to Iceland called for an end to commercial whaling and trade in whale products by Iceland.

March 1, 2016: Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson issued a report to the Icelandic Parliament outlining the impacts whaling has had on Iceland's relations with other countries. While stating that inter-governmental relations have not suffered much, Minister Sveinsson admitted that "challenges" have been experienced by Icelandic fish exporters and their overseas partners as a result of Iceland's hunting of whales.

February 29, 2016: Icelandic minke whalers say they "plan to stick to their guns" and will continue whaling in 2016.

February 22, 2016: Icelandic media reported that commercial fin whaling is unlikely to take place this summer due to onerous import rules in Japan.

January 27, 2016: National Geographic article on Iceland's whaling and trade features an interview with filmmaker Jonny Zwick, whose documentary film Breach examines the country's commercial whaling industry.

January 20, 2016: According to customs documents, Lofothval, a Norwegian whaling company partly owned by Kristján Loftsson, shipped 3.1 metric tons of minke whale meat to the IP Dreifing company in Iceland.

October 1, 2015: The minke whaling season has closed, with 29 of these small whales killed. A representative of the industry has indicated that it may be necessary to import Norwegian minke whale meat due to the poor hunt.

September 29, 2015: Iceland's fin whaling season ends, with a total of 155 endangered fin whales killed in 94 days.

September 3, 2015: Bloomberg news interviews Hvalur CEO and HB Grandi Chairman Kristján Loftsson, who claims that whaling is profitable; This runs contrary to reports by Icelandic financial newspaper Vidskiptablaðið that when operational costs were subtracted from the company's revenue from whale meat, the difference amounted to a loss of 72.5 million ISK (US$ 0.57 million/€ 0.50 million/ ₤ 0.38 million).

August 31, 2015: Iceland's Directorate of Fisheries (Fiskistofa) announces that 102 endangered fin whales and 29 minke whales have been killed to date in the 2015 Icelandic whaling season.

August 30, 2015: The Winter Bay, the vessel carrying 1,800 metric tons of fin whale products from Hvalur, arrives in Osaka, Japan.

August 21, 2015.: US tourist Timothy Baker releases photos of the Hvalur 8 dragging dead fin whales back to shore for processing; the photos were taken while on board a whale-watch excursion in late July.

August 19, 2015: St. Kitts and Nevis government authorities admit to being nervous about the negative publicity generated by the Avaaz campaign to stop the Winter Bay.

August 2, 2015: The Winter Bay leaves the port of Tromsø.

July 26, 2015:  Whaler Kristján Loftsson, in an interview with Australian news, states that whales are a "nuisance" and encourages Australia to begin hunting them.

July 22, 2015: Icelandic members of Parliament join the debate on whaling. One MP, Elín Hirst,  posts a photo of herself on Facebook enjoying a whale watch and states, "this is an extremely important industry for the national economy—much more important that whale hunting, which is a hindrance to us. We need to face this issue and confront it."

July 20, 2015:  Iceland's Foreign Minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, states that perhaps Iceland should consider reducing its whaling quotas, admitting that Iceland is looked down on by key allies due to whaling, and that whaling has caused Iceland to be snubbed at several international meetings.

July 19, 2015:  Japanese stockpiles of whale meat are reported to be at a 15 year low of 1,157 metric tons; however, 1,800 metric tons of whale products are on their way to Japan via the Arctic.

July 7, 2015: Actress Pamela Anderson calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the Winter Bay.

July 1, 2015:  The first fin whales of the season are landed at the whaling station in Hvalfjörður, amidst  protests.

June 29, 2015: The Icelandic fin whaling season begins, as the whaling vessels Hvalur 8 and 9 set out to sea. Meanwhile, the Avaaz petition requesting that the flag state for the Winter Bay, St. Kitts and Nevis, de-flag the vessel nears 1 million supporters.

June 5, 2015:  The Winter Bay leaves Hafnarfjörður.

May 25, 2015:  The Russian Northern Sea Route Authority issues a permit to the Winter Bay so that it can transit through Arctic waters on its way to Japan, despite the fact that it is a single-hulled ship rated as an Ice Class 1 vessel (having only basic ice strengthening), and had reported gear problems before leaving Iceland.

May 18, 2015: Icelandic news services report that 1,700 metric tons of fin whale products have been loaded onto a cargo ship anchored at the dock in Hafnarfjörður. The vessel, the Winter Bay, is said to be headed to Luanda, Angola. Its eventual destination is assumed to be Japan.

May 11, 2015: Iceland's Fisheries Directorate publishes catch data indicating that the first minke whales of 2015 has been killed. The minke whaling vessel Hrafnreyður offloaded 1.7 metric tons of minke whale meat in the port of Hafnarfjörður.

March 19, 2015: Iceland's Fisheries Directorate releases a report on times to death (TTD) for 50 of the 137 fin whales killed in the 2014 hunt. It is stated that 42 whales died "instantly" (within 10 seconds). However eight other whales needed to be reshot with a penthrite grenade, and had a median TTD of eight minutes. One whale suffered for 15 minutes.

March 14, 2015: A mobile billboard—funded by a coalition of U.S. animal protection and conservation organizations—will take the message "Don't Buy From Icelandic Whalers" to the streets of Boston this week. The large billboard makes its debut at the Kendall Square Cinema today, coinciding with a showing of Icelandic films sponsored by Iceland Naturally, a marketing program developed by Icelandic companies to increase demand for Icelandic products, including frozen seafood. The billboard will be prominently displayed throughout the area surrounding the Boston Convention and Exposition Center, site of the Seafood Expo North America (SENA) taking place Sunday, March 15, through Tuesday, March 17. The billboard will also make apperances at seafood restaurants and other locations throughout the city, including Legal Seafoods Harborside and Tavern Road Restaurant. Read More.   

March 5, 2015:  The Hvalur hf whaling company announces that it has received a building permit to construct new buildings at the fin whaling station in Hvalfjörður, and will not process whale meat at the HB Grandi facility in Akranes. Skepticism remains based on previous statements that HB Grandi did not have anything to do with whaling or processing whale meat, when video proof to the contrary exists.

March 2, 2015:  Canadian Member of Parliament Don Davies indicates that documents have been found showing additional shipments of Icelandic whale meat transiting Canada.

January 23, 2015: US government agencies issue a report on the actions taken to implement the Presidential Directives against Iceland's commercial whaling issued on April 1, 2014.

November 27, 2014: Member of Parliament Don Davies asks the Canadian government why it allowed shipments of endangered fin whale meat exported from Iceland to Japan to transit Canada by rail, and calls for such shipments to be stopped.

November 6, 2014: Ahold USA, the 8th largest retailer in the United States and the parent company of grocery chains Giant, Stop&Shop, Peapod, and Martin's Food Markets, issues a statement saying that the company does not support commercial whaling or trade in whale products.  It also indicates that it audited its supply chain and found that Ahold USA does not source from HB Grandi or Hvalur-linked companies.

September and November 2014: The US government is alerted to evidence of Icelandic fin whale meat entering the Ports of Seattle, WA, and Portland, ME, en route to Japan, in violation of several federal laws.

September 24, 2014: Iceland's whaling company Hvalur hf, led by Kristjan Loftsson, ends its 2014 hunting season for endangered fin whales, killing 134 of these animals. The 2014 minke whaling season ends with 24 minke whales killed.

September 15, 2014: In response to pressure from concerned citizens, the European Union, its 28 Member States and the governments of the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Mexico, and Monaco, issue a formal diplomatic protest against Iceland's commercial whaling and international trade in whale products.

June 16–17, 2014:  Iceland is not invited to participate in the US State Department sponsored conference Our Ocean, as part of the diplomatic actions called for under the April 2014 Presidential Directives.

May 7, 2014: The cargo vessel Alma arrives in Osaka, Japan and offloads endangered fin whale meat from Hvalur hf.

April 1, 2014, President Obama announces that Iceland's commercial whaling jeopardizes the survival of the fin whale, an endangered whale species, and undermines multilateral efforts to ensure greater worldwide protection for whales under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The president elects not to impose targeted trade sanctions against specific Iceland companies linked to whaling but does impose diplomatic sanctions against Iceland.

March 20, 2014: A massive shipment of more than 2,000 metric tons of whale products, some of which were processed in an HB Grandi-owned facility, leave Iceland on board a chartered refrigerated cargo vessel, the Alma.

March 14, 2014:  High Liner Foods releases a statement opposing commercial whaling and trade in whale products, and confirming that it will not enter into any new contracts with HB Grandi until such time as HB Grandi divests itself of its interest and involvement in whaling.