Help me end the slaughter of whales in Iceland

1. Introduction
2. Who is Hard To Port?
3. Our Cause
4. Our MO
5. What has Hard To Port done so far?
5.1 A call for transparency - Hard To Port’s Whaler Watching Campaign
5.2 Making international headlines
5.3 Our work during the pandemic
6. Outlook
6.1 The tides are turning
6.2 Beginning of the end?
7. How You Can Help


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1. Introduction

Dear reader,
Thank you for taking the time to look into this crowdfunding appeal.
My name is Arne, and I am a passionate ocean conservationist and the founder of Hard To Port.

2. Who is Hard to Port?

Hard To Port is a registered, Germany-based non-profit marine conservation organisation. Since our founding in 2014, my organisation has devoted itself to bringing an end to the commercial whale hunt in Iceland.




3. Our cause

As of 2022, Iceland is one of three nations that still allow the commercial killing of the great whales. When I started my work with Hard To Port back in 2014, Icelandic whalers were hunting both fin whales – the second biggest animal on the planet – and the smaller common minke whales. In 2020, the hunt for common minke whales in coastal waters ended, thus making the fin whale hunt the last remaining part of this cruel spectacle. By bringing an end to the fin whale hunt, we will have achieved our campaign goal of ending all commercial whaling in Iceland.




4. Our MO

To achieve our goal, Hard To Port utilises a variety of approaches and strategies: investigative work, protests, public outreach campaigns, educational events (e.g., exhibitions, talks), etc. With many years of marine conservation activism experience, we know what it takes to run an effective campaign, namely creativity, continuity, passion, and patience.


5. What has Hard To Port done so far?

For the past nine years, we have run annual campaigns to raise awareness of the cruelty of the Icelandic commercial whale hunt. We have worked together with Icelandic supporters and alongside other conservation organisations. Through our work, Hard To Port has become one of the most dedicated and persistent advocates for whales in Iceland.


5.1 A call for transparency: Hard To Port’s “Whaler Watching” campaign

When we began our awareness-raising work, one of our first campaign targets was the huge information gap that had been instrumental in shielding the Iceland whaling industry from greater public scrutiny.
Until 2015, commercial whaling operations in Iceland took place largely outside the public eye. Information about the operations was mostly provided by those who had a vested interest in portraying these operations as “humane” and “efficient”. The public’s ability to scrutinise the accuracy of this portrayal was greatly hampered by the fact that whaling operations take place at sea, and there is no official mandate to provide independent surveillance of the operations.

In 2015, Hard To Port spearheaded efforts to fill this information gap by launching our “Whaler Watching” campaign in an attempt to monitor and document commercial whaling activities in Iceland independently. The idea behind this campaign was simple: If we want to have an unbiased and informed debate about the commercial whale hunt, then every aspect of this hunt must become visible. With this concept, we have enabled a critical look behind the curtain of this highly secretive industry.

Since 2015 we have refined our approach and have added new tools to our campaign toolkit every year. (As you can see in the image below, one of these tools is drones for aerial monitoring.)




5.2 Making international headlines

In 2018, our campaign revealed the tragic accidental killing of two rare hybrid whales - the crossbreed of fin and blue whales. These rare crossbreeds are not supposed to be killed, though without any proper reporting requirements in place, it is hard to tell how often such accidental killings happen.




This 2018 incident was widely covered by national and international media outlets, including CNN, BBC, The Telegraph, ABC News, and Sydney Morning Herald, many of whom contacted us for a statement and reproduced our photos. For a short period, the tragic killing of these rare hybrid whales catapulted the commercial slaughter of whales in Iceland into the international spotlight.

It is safe to say that without Hard To Port’s monitoring efforts, this incident would most likely have gone unreported and unnoticed.


5.3 Our work during the pandemic

Despite the added challenges, we continued our work during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. In 2021, with the kind support of Reykjavík’s city council and the participation of international award-winning photographers and artists, we brought the educational public whale conservation exhibition “Whale Vision” to the heart of Iceland’s capital. “Whale Vision” displayed informative, educational content and inspiring and touching conservation stories from dedicated ocean advocates. (The exhibition was compliant with all COVID-19 regulations within Iceland.)




6. Outlook

6.1 The tide is turning

Since our first campaign in 2015, we have seen a shift in the public perception of the role that whales play in Iceland. Once widely considered as a marine resource by large parts of the population, nowadays, these animals are more often acknowledged for their important ecological role as well as an increasingly lucrative contribution they make to the Icelandic economy, specifically to Iceland’s tourism industry.




Over the past two decades, Iceland has developed into a global hotspot and leading
destination for whale watching opportunities. Each year tens of thousands of visitors head out to sea with local tour operators to experience unforgettable encounters with whales in their natural habitat off Iceland’s shores.

Since the whale watching industry has become an increasingly important source of revenue for Iceland’s tourism sector, the voices of those who are calling for an end to commercial whaling in Iceland have steadily grown louder.


6.2 Icelandic whaling at a crossroads

Today, the future of this archaic and isolated whaling industry looks a lot bleaker than it did when we began our work nine years ago. A historic turning point lies ahead as Iceland’s current administration has decided to put the country’s whaling policy under close scrutiny. Earlier this year, the country’s minister of fisheries and agriculture, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, went as far as to cast doubt on the renewal of whale hunting permits.

In an interview with Iceland’s newspaper Morgunblaðið, she stated that, “There are few justifications to authorise the whale hunt beyond 2024” (when the current licenses expire). “There is little proof that there is any economic advantage to this activity”, she continued.

According to Svavarsdóttir, the government will make an assessment this year.


6.3 The Beginning of the end?

Hard To Port welcomes this statement. We see it as a vindication of the efforts of all those who – like Hard To Port – have campaigned against the commercial whale hunt for years.

While there is a real chance that this year’s whaling season could be the last in Iceland’s history, now is not the time to lean back. On the contrary! With the possibility of an end to the Icelandic whale hunt in reach, we must keep up the pressure.

In June, our team will return to Iceland to continue the work we began in 2015. We will once again shine a critical light on these controversial operations, just as we have successfully done in the past.


7. How you can help

My organisation is run by passionate volunteers who dedicate a large portion of their leisure time (and often a not-insignificant amount of their own financial resources) to the advancement of our cause. As such, the success of our work has always greatly depended on the generous support of people who have helped our campaigns financially.

Today, we depend on your generosity more urgently than ever: For the past two years, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has greatly impacted our organisation’s ability to organise the kinds of fundraising events that until 2020 had allowed us to secure funding for our ambitious campaigns.

The funds raised in this crowdfunding campaign will secure our return to Iceland this summer. Specifically, your contributions help us cover the expenses for

  • Logistics / Transportation
  • Additional equipment and equipment upgrades
  • Accommodation and provisions


On behalf of Hard To Port, I thank you for taking the time to read through this crowdfunding and for considering a vital financial contribution to our campaign.

For the whales!

Arne Feuerhahn, CEO of Hard To Port e.V.




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Organizer

Arne Feuerhahn 
Organizer
Flensburg