Breach — One Man’s Personal Obsession with Killing Endangered Whales in Iceland
“Tourism is increasing in Iceland, next year over a million people are expected, so you can imagine if 40 percent of tourists ask for and eat whale meat—what sort of a disastrous situation and impact it would have on whales. There would be a significant increase in the killing and slaughter of Minke whales if tourists ask for whale meat in restaurants.” ~ Sigursteinn Masson, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
BREACH is a powerful documentary exposing Iceland’s controversial whaling industry and one man’s obsession with slaughtering hundreds of whales every year by manipulating Iceland’s killing quotas. Kristján Loftsson’s obsession defies all—the International Whaling Commission’s moratorium on commercial whaling since 1986, declining whale populations, hunting an endangered species, international and domestic outrage, boycotts of Icelandic products, and a Japanese market that is no longer interested in fin whale meat—and yet he continues. Why?
The film reveals the conflict between a small dying industry, where only two other countries are players, and the Icelandic men who are hell-bent on continuing the slaughter of whales supported by Iceland’s government and the minority viewpoint that “whales are killing all the fish in the ocean and hurting Iceland’s fishing industry.” All is played out against a backdrop of Iceland’s defiant disregard for international law, overwhelming international protests, an explosion of interest in Icelandic tourism and whale watching—and a virtual worldwide disinterest in whale meat. To this day, the majority of Kristján Loftsson’s and Hvalur’s whale meat is stockpiled in freezer facilities since 2006 in Iceland—yet he continues to kill hundreds of whales.
Kristján Loftsson and his company Hvalur H/F is the only business in the world to continue hunting the world’s second largest animal—the threatened fin whale, listed as an endangered species on the Endangered Species Conservation Act.
Film Length: 66 Minutes
Film Premier: October 2015
Film Awards for Breach
- Official Selection 2015 – New York City International Film Festival
- Official Selection – Santa Barbara International Film Festival
- Official Selection 2015 – Newport Beach Film Festival
- DCFEST – SF Documentary Festival 2015
What You Can Do To STOP Whaling In Iceland
- Email Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries – Ask the Minister of Fisheries to halt all whaling and boycott tourism to Iceland until whaling stops. Email: Postur@Environment.IS and the U.S. Ambassador to Iceland: Reykjavikpublicaffairs@State.Gov.
- Boycott Iceland, Icelandic Fish, Foods and Products – Boycotting Icelandic products will put economic pressure on Icelandic businesses and government, and show that you support economic sanctions against their continuing to kill whales.
- Boycott Tourism to Iceland – Until Iceland decides to respect international law, the world community, the endangered species act, and the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling—put your economic support into another country. Don’t visit or support Iceland. Money is power. Voice your reasons publicly.
- If Traveling to Iceland – Patronize ONLY “Whale-Friendly” restaurants that do not sell whale meat, and DO NOT patronize any restaurant that serves whale meat.
- Go Whale Watching – Support the whale watching industry in Iceland, not the exploitation and slaughter of whales, or the consuming of whale meat or whale products.
Watch the Film Breach
Quotes from the Film
“The technique of how to humanely kill a whale is a highly controversial topic. In Iceland, they use grenades and harpoon guns to kill the whales. The harpoon is fired from the bow of the ship as the whale surfaces—when the mechanism enters the whale it releases multiple prongs and bombs explode inside the whale. The whale blows up.”
“It’s totally ridiculous, it’s unnecessary, it’s inhuman.”
“People call things traditional just to make themselves look better.”
“Fin whaling has nothing to do with the economic interest of Iceland or the Icelandic people. It’s basically this one man who has a personal thing with whales.”
“The only two countries that whale meat can be exported to is Norway and Japan, they are the only two other countries that hunt and kill whales.”
“We don’t want other countries telling us what to do. We’re stubborn about changing things. National Icelandic sentiment goes a long way to supporting whaling.”
“The Icelandic government has permitted the hunting of two whales, the Fin and the Minke whale.”
“From 2009 to 2014, Kristján Loftsson and his family have killed 544 endangered Fin whales.”
“It’s a big question—what drives Kristján Loftsson to continue killing whales? It’s a big question why he continues. The personal interest of one man who won’t stop killing whales.”
“To this day, the majority of his stockpile remains in freezer facilities. Fin whale meat from Loftsson’s 2006 hunt still remains in Hvalur’s freezer facilities.”
“Kristján Loftsson has a financial interest in supporting the argument that whales eat too much fish. Loftsson benefits personally from each whale that is killed and from every fish caught. By purchasing Loftsson’s and Hvalur H/F’s products, consumers are supporting Loftsson’s whale hunting.”
“Hvalur is the only business in the world to continue hunting the world’s second largest animal. Kristján Loftsson has inherited the company, and is now considered the face of Icelandic whaling.”
“The International IUCN, the world’s primary authority on whales, has the Fin whale listed on the Red List of Threatened Species that classifies each species risk as an endangered species, and the worldwide stock of Fin whales is in very poor shape. The IUCN disagrees with Iceland and Kristján Loftsson.”
“We do not support Iceland’s ‘priveleged’ condition to membership in the IWC that no other member has—the hunting and killing of whales.” ~ Rolland Schmitten, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Commission
“The Minke is known to be one of the most curious whales, they’re very friendly and come alongside boats and are very sociable, making them an easy target to hunt and kill.”
“I found it to be very exciting (hunting and killing whales). I got plenty of pleasure from it. I do not have a lot of respect for the Minke whale. What is humane? I would have to say that whale hunting is more humane than what humans inflict on each other. ~ Kondrad Eggertsson, Minke Whaler
“I am only continuing something that has been done here for a lot of years (this was the argument to continue slavery and justify all forms of unethical, immoral and inhumane activities). I don’t understand why this has people so up in arms.”
“An argument we hear in Iceland is that we should kill whales because they eat a lot of seafood as they are considered competitors for the fishing industry, and reduce the fishing stocks.” ~ Birna Björk Arnadottir, Hvalur Company
“Icelandic people truly believe that whales are killing all the fish in the ocean, and we need to kill them to keep a balance.” ~ Rannveig Gretarsdottir, Whale Watching Company CEO
“People truly believe that whales are competitors to the fishing industry, this is very strong propaganda from the fishery businesses.” ~ Gisli Vikingsson, The Marine Research Institute
“The market in Japan for whale meat is declining, young people do not eat it. You don’t even find whale meat in Tokyo.”
“In Japan, they have difficulty selling their own whale meat. So it’s just about this one man, Kristján Loftsson, who will do his damnedest to export whale meat at whatever cost. To him, the cost is immaterial.”
“Minke whale meat is on the market in Iceland, but most of the meat ends up in restaurants for tourists.”
“Whalewatching and hunting whales goes on side by side in Iceland, right next to each other. Sometimes whale-watching boats can see the whale hunting boats pulling a dead whale alongside it.”
“It cannot coexist (whaling and whale watching). It’s much more important economically to promote whale watching than the dying industry of whaling.”
“Unfortunately, many tourists want to taste whale meat and go to restaurants serving whale meat. It’s novelty.”
“My friends would never go to restaurants and eat whale, never.” ~ Icelandic young person
“Tourism is increasing in Iceland, next year over a million people are expected, so you can imagine if 40 percent of all the tourists are eating whale meat, what a disastrous situation we would have.”
“Iceland’s government is actually defying a global law by the International Whaling Commission or IWC, that was voted in 1982 and made effective in 1986 – globally mandating the halting of whale hunting for commercial or financial gain worldwide. Iceland exited and re-entered the IWC in 2002, and is still a member. Iceland started whaling again in 2006.”
Less than 10% of Icelanders eat whale meat and so the domestic market is limited— it’s a dying business. If they would not find an international market, they would have to stop. I think it’s time for them to stop whaling.
Dec. 18, 2013 – The Marine Research Institute (MRI) granted new whaling quotas for 2014 – 2018. Iceland’s whale permit for whaling dramatically increased. Quotas are:
- Minke Whale: 1145
- Fin Whale: 770 endangered Fins
In 2007, we found whale populations had dropped considerably, it was very significant, from about 40,000 to 20,000 whales.
Iceland, Japan, and Norway are the only countries in the world to continue this archaic practice. And of the three, Iceland is the only country to hunt the endangered Fin whale.
A study was done from 2002 – 2007, and the results revealed zero evidence that killing more Minke whales will mean more fish for fishermen.
Tourism in 2013 surpassed fishing as the number one industry.
Produced and Directed by: Jonny Zwick
Narrated by: Billy Baldwin
Director of Photography: Jonny Zwick
Edited by: Suzanne Mejean
Executive Producers: Ramin Fathie Michael Rosen
Producer: Kevin Carvell
A SIDE DOOR PRODUCTIONS PRODUCTION
In association with AUGUST ROAD ENTERTAINMENT KEVIN CARVELL COMPANY
© 2015 Side Door Productions All Rights Reserved
Interviewed in the Film
Kondrad Eggertsson, Minke Whaler
Kristján Loftsson, owner of the Icelandic company Hvalur H/F
Sigursteinn Masson, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Birna Björk Arnadottir, Hvalur’s Processing Facility
Rannveig Gretarsdottir, Whale Watching Company CEO
Gisli Vikingsson, The Marine Research Institute
Rannveig Gretarsdottir, Whale Watching Company CEO
Rolland Schmitten, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Commission
Several photos featured are courtesy of film Breach and Side Door Productions.