Help us

Changing the future of Iceland’s whales and marine life

Only 2% of Icelanders say they eat whale meat regularly, yet tourism is driving demand in restaurants across Iceland. On this life-changing visit, YOU have the opportunity to help to preserve the future of Icelandic minke whales.

Icelandic Whale Watching and whale-friendly restaurants: the way forward  

There is no humane way to kill a whale. Whalers target a moving animal that is largely submerged under water, and also attempt to harpoon the animal from an unstable platform. In some cases it takes a whale more than 30 minutes to die.

Responsible whale watching, however, is a sustainable, green industry that simultaneously supports local economies and promotes whale education and conservation. A staggering 23 different whale species are found around Iceland.

IFAW has been supporting the Icelandic whale watching sector since 1990, and helped create the non-profit organisation of Icelandic whale watching operators known as IceWhale. IceWhale’s aim is to be a common platform for Icelandic whale watching companies, that come together to promote responsible whale watching conservation.

At you can find a list of whale friendly restaurants, many of which carry our whale friendly logo. If you happen to visit, please let them know you appreciate their decision to not sell whale meat!

You don’t need to eat minke whale meat to have an authentic Icelandic holiday experience

THE Meet Us Don’t Eat Us campaign

Meet Us Don’t Eat Us is a joint campaign between IFAW and IceWhale that was launched in Reykjavik in 2011. It encourages Iceland’s millions of visitors to go whale watching and not eat whale meat. To date more than 500 volunteers from all over the world have participated.

Tourists themselves are key in helping promote responsible tourist behaviour

In Iceland, tourists are wrongly told that whale hunting is a traditional practice and that most Icelanders regularly eat whale meat. In reality, 84% of Icelanders polled in 2018 said they had not bought whale meat in the previous 12 months, and only 2% stated that they buy whale meat regularly.

2018 a crucial year 

Iceland’s self-allocated fin and minke whale hunting quotas expired in 2018.In May 2018, the Icelandic Prime Minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, declared that Iceland’s whale hunting policy was in need of review. Neither she nor her party feel whale hunting is sustainable. However, in February 2019 the Minister of Fisheries signed a regulation authorising the hunt of up to 2,130 minke and fin whales from 2019 to 2023.

This means that whalers in Icelandic waters will be allowed to harpoon 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales every year until 2023.

Therefore, now more than ever, we must take action and promote more thoughtful relationships between whales and tourists visiting Iceland. Our work helps support the growing consensus that viable alternatives to whale hunting exist, and that do not adversely impact the welfare of these vulnerable populations.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) is a global non-profit organisation that protects animals and the places they call home. With offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40, we rescue, rehabilitate and release animals into secure landscapes around the world. In collaboration with both governments and local communities, our experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists pioneer lasting solutions to some of the most pressing animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues of our time.