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Icelandic private business group votes against whaling


9th April 2003

Reykjavik, Iceland

The Iceland Tourist Industry Association strengthened its stand against whale hunting at its annual general meeting held last week, showing strong opposition from Iceland’s business community against plans by the government to resume whale killing.

At the April 3, 2003 meeting at the New Icelandair Nordica Hotel in Reykjavik, the association voted to reiterate its support for its existing resolution against whaling, in place since March 1999. The association noted that, “whale watching has become one of the most popular tourist activity in Iceland, providing considerable income for the economy, as well as creating a very positive image for Iceland.”

Whale watching has become one of the fastest growing tourism industries in Iceland. In 1998 alone, conservative estimates show that the industry generated more than US$6.5 million in sales. By 2001 the direct revenue from whale watching in Iceland was more than US$8.5 million, while indirect revenue generated US$5.3 million. This realized a total value of whale watching for Iceland’s economy in 2001 alone at US$13.8 million.

The original March 1999 resolution by the association stated that, “To resume whaling in opposition to the agreements of the IWC would immediately be interpreted as an act of pirate whaling and would cause great damage to the Icelandic tourist industry. Furthermore, the meeting points out, marketing of Iceland as a tourist destination, has increasingly been directed at tourists seeking wilderness and living nature, which also includes whale watching. The meeting urges the Government of Iceland not to resume whaling with out consultation and acceptance with the international community. Otherwise there would be dire consequences.”

Iceland joined CITES in 2000 but refuses to be bound by its rules on several species, including the highly endangered blue whale. It rejoined the IWC in 2002, controversially making its objection to the whaling ban a condition of its membership.

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For media-related inquiries, contact:
Gill Sanders (IFAW) – UK Tel: 44 (207) 587-6700; Email:

Jennifer Ferguson-Mitchell (IFAW) – US Tel: 1 (508) 744-2076; Email: