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Don't buy from Icelandic whalers

Icelandic whalers have killed more than 1,000 whales since 2006 and plan to kill 2,000 more by 2018.  You can help stop the slaughter. Iceland's whaling industry is inextricably linked to its fishing industry. Join the Don't Buy From Icelandic Whalers campaign: avoid purchasing seafood from Icelandic companies tied to whaling.

What you can do

Consumer Pressure

If you buy seafood, ask your local supermarket, big-box store, wholesale club or restaurant to verify that their seafood products do not come from a source linked to Icelandic whaling. Refer them to the DontBuyFromIcelandicWhalers.com website if they have questions. If they cannot guarantee to you that the Icelandic seafood products are not "whaling free," don't buy from them until they can. Also, please write to the company's customer service department and ask for assurances that its products are not linked to Iceland's whale hunt. You can find a list of seafood retailers that have purchased from companies linked to whaling here.

The Don't Buy From Icelandic Whalers Coalition has joined forces with groups in Europe and is calling on Iceland's leading seafood export company, HB Grandi, to stop its support of commercial whaling. We have identified key companies that buy seafood from HB Grandi and its subsidiaries (see information below) and have written to ask them to ensure that they are not purchasing seafood supplied by these companies. Please, tell them that they should not support the killing of endangered fin whales, a protected and iconic species. Take action now.

Tell Seafood Companies to Stop Supporting Iceland's Endangered Fin Whale Hunt

Political Pressure

What You Can Do to Help

Please write to Iceland's ambassador to the United States, politely expressing your opposition to Iceland's whaling policy: Geir H. Haarde at icemb.wash@utn.stjr.is or by mail to: Embassy of Iceland, Washington D.C., House of Sweden, 2900 K Street N.W. #509, Washington DC 20007-1704.

In addition, please write to Iceland's President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to express your views: President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson at forseti@forseti.is or by mail to: Sóleyjargata 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland.

We encourage you to edit the letters provided in this link to make your submission unique before sending it.

Background Information

When did Iceland resume commercial whaling?

Iceland returned to commercial whaling in 2006 and since then has killed more than 1,000 whales. In December 2013, the government of Iceland issued a new five-year quota for fin and minke whales, under which it approved the slaughter of nearly 2,000 whales.

Iceland's domestic market for whale products is small; it exports most of the whale meat and blubber to Japan, defying a global ban on international commercial trade in whale products.

In Europe and North America, conservation and animal protection NGOs have been encouraging the public not to buy fish from whalers, putting pressure on fish suppliers and retailers to ensure they do not source from Icelandic companies linked to whaling.

Slayed in Iceland - the ongoing exploitation of endangered fin whales from EIA on Vimeo.

Which Icelandic companies are tied to whaling?

There are direct links between Iceland's whaling industry and powerful elements of Iceland's fishing industry. Fish sourced from whaling-linked companies in Iceland is imported into the United States both directly and through third parties.

The Hvalur hf company has killed more than 551 endangered fin whales since 2006 and shipped over 5,400 metric tons of fin whale meat, blubber and other products to Japan. In addition to being used in sushi or soups, some of the meat from this magnificent—and endangered—species is used as dog treats.

Individuals and companies that are tied to Hvalur control a significant percentage of shares in HB Grandi, one of Iceland's leading seafood companies. In addition, individuals that manage these companies are also key players in HB Grandi's corporate leadership. For example, Kristján Loftsson, who partly owns and manages Hvalur, is the chairman of the board of HB Grandi. HB Grandi subsidiaries include Vignir G. Jónsson, Norðanfiskur, and Laugafiskur. In addition, HB Grandi owns 20 percent of the shares in a Chilean company, Deris, which in turn owns the Friosur seafood company.

A dead fin whale, dragged onto the dock at the Hvalur hf whaling station in September, 2013. After being flensed, its meat was taken to HB Grandi in Akranes for further processing.

What is HB Grandi's role in Iceland's fin whaling?

HB Grandi, the largest seafood company in Iceland, holds roughly 11 percent of the country's fishing quotas, including for redfish, cod, Greenland halibut, haddock, saithe, mackerel and herring. It owns numerous vessels and operates several fish processing plants at which it also produces fishmeal and fish oil.

In each of the years that fin whaling has taken place since 2006, fin whale meat has been transported by truck from the Hvalur whaling station to Akranes, where it is cut, packaged, boxed, and made ready for export in HB Grandi facilities.

In March 2015, Hvalur hf announced that there will be no further processing of whale meat at the HB Grandi facility in Akranes. However, in August 2013, HB Grandi's marketing manager, Brynjólfur Eyjólfsson stated in an interview that the company "had nothing to do with whaling", even though at the time whale meat was being processed at the Akranes building owned by HB Grandi. Further, in March of 2014, Mr. Eyjólfsson repeated the claim that HB Grandi had nothing to do with whaling, including the processing of whale meat. Yet throughout the 2013 and 2014 whaling seasons, meat from endangered fin whales caught by Hvalur hf was cut, packed and processed for export at the HB Grandi facility in Akranes. 

Therefore, we remain skeptical of the claims that no whale meat will be processed at Akranes in summer 2015.  Even if no whale meat is processed at the HB Grandi facility, there are still significant corporate ties between Hvalur hf and HB Grandi, not least of which is the fact that Kristján Loftsson, managing director and part owner of Hvalur hf, is also chair of the HB Grandi board of directors.  Vogun hf, the largest shareholder in HB Grandi with more than a third of HB Grandi shares, is almost entirely owned by Hvalur hf.

Which companies are known to buy seafood from whaling-linked companies?

While many of the companies that import directly or indirectly from HB Grandi and its subsidiaries are not household names, a few companies are well known: 

Photo of the don't buy from Icelandic whalers ad on a bus in BostonWhat's being done to stop imports of Iceland fish products linked to whaling?

In Europe and North America, conservation and animal protection NGOs have been encouraging the public not to buy fish from whalers, putting pressure on fish suppliers and retailers to ensure they do not source from Icelandic companies linked to whaling.

Our coalition has written to dozens of companies asking them to confirm that they oppose commercial whaling, and that they do not buy seafood from HB Grandi and its associated companies. For a full list of the letters sent, please click here

In addition, coalition members have attended several seafood shows in the United States and Europe, raising our concerns about Icelandic whaling and HB Grandi's links to the Hvalur hf whaling company. We've taken out advertising on the Boston public transit system, and on telephone kiosks in New York City, to raise awareness of the issue.

We are also working with partner conservation organizations in Europe, helping with their campaign to urge major European seafood buyers to support efforts to stop Icelandic whaling.

What responses have you received from the companies that have been contacted?

  • High Liner Foods has stated that it is not supportive of any commercial whaling or trade in whale products and has advised its senior officials that the company is not to enter into any new contracts with HB Grandi until it has fully divested its involvement and interest in whaling.
  • Ahold Corporation confirmed its opposition to commercial whaling and undertook a full supply chain audit of its seafood suppliers, and said that it does not source from either HB Grandi or Hvalur.
  • Trader Joe's has also indicated its opposition to commercial whaling and trade in whale products, and began an audit of its supply chain.
  • Sysco has begun auditing its supply chain, but has not given any indication as to its position on commercial whaling. It has acknowledged that at least one of its operating companies sources from HB Grandi.

We are grateful for the positive responses thus far, but still need your help securing additional answers to our request.

Coalition Partners

A number of animal welfare and conservation groups have partnered to present this information. All are members of the WhalesNeedUS coalition of US non-governmental organizations working to end the commercial slaughter of whales.

Animal Welfare Institute Cetacean Soceity International Dolphin Connection Environmental Investigation Agency
Greenpeace International Marine Mammal Project Natural Resources Defense Council Nantucket Marine Mammal Conservation Program
 Origami Whales Project The Whaleman Foundation Whale and Dolphin Conservation World Animal Protection

 

Contact: dontbuy@awionline.org