This is how we work
Introducing the Whaler Watching Programme – Independent observation and documentation
It is a sad yet undeniable fact that most citizens know very little about the reality of commercial whaling. Whaling activities occur far offshore, out of the public’s eye. Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the whale hunt, the public perception of whaling is very much shaped by the information that the whaling industry itself provides in an effort to market their practice as ethically sound and their product as morally unobjectionable. There is no denying that the pro-whaling lobby has been very successful at getting this message across to the public, who, as a result, has taken very little interest in the hunt. The success of the industry’s marketing effort is attested by a 2013 poll according to which almost 60 percent of Icelanders believe that the whale hunt is carried out in a humane manner.
We at Hard To Port believe that the widespread lack of interest is connected to the widespread lack of information about the commercial whale hunt. By keeping the realities of whaling hidden from the public’s eye, those who have a vested economic interest in the continuation of these horrific practices directly benefit from the public’s ignorance and the resulting lack of interest in the hunt itself. Whenever activist groups have tried to penetrate this veil of ignorance, the pro-whaling lobby has countered their efforts with a well-funded campaign aimed at disseminating scientifically dubious claims about the hunt. The aim of this propaganda is to discredit, or at least cast doubt on the footage that independent observers have gathered, footage that paints a very different picture than the one that the industry likes to present.
Among the dubious claims that the pro-whaling lobby has been spreading, the most ignominious one is that the whale hunt is carried out in a “humane manner”. By emphasizing the purported “humaneness” of the hunt, the whaling industry implicitly recognizes the need to address the gut reaction that a lot of people experience at the sight of blood gushing from an animal that is fighting for its life, and to dispel people’s concerns with respect to the ethicality of the act of taking the life of a sentient, intelligent creature. While there exists a growing global consensus about the inherent inhumaneness of killing nature’s most massive mammals, in Iceland this view is held only by a minority.
We at Hard To Port believe that the notion of “humane whaling” is a myth. It is our conviction that the lack of independent information is one of the primary reasons why the myth of humane whaling enjoys such widespread acceptance. In the absence of well-documented evidence to the contrary, the hegemony of the myth of humane whaling undermines any possibility of a critical public debate about the defensibility of whaling in Iceland. However, we at Hard To Port believe that such a debate is urgently needed. Therefore, Hard To Port intends to introduce the Whaler Watching Programme (WWP) to Iceland. Whaler Watching will allow independent observation and documentation of the hunting events that take place off Iceland’s coast. Citizen-led whaling observer missions will accompany the killing ships of the Icelandic whaling fleet and will comprehensively document the supposedly “humane” hunt. By monitoring the activities of the whalers at sea, we aim to making the brutal reality of whaling visible to the Icelandic public and the international community, thus countering the official narrative of the whaling industry and its supporters.
Joining forces – Working together with the local community
Collaboration and cooperation play a central role in our efforts to protect the whales in Iceland. Although the Icelandic government likes to portray the whaling industry as a national industry, many Icelanders are in fact highly critical if not outright opposed to commercial whaling. By working with local businesses and individuals who share our concern for the well-being of these fascinating animals, Hard To Port is building a strong and diverse coalition of voices who collectively speak out against whaling.