• Arctic anthropology;
  • human–environmental relations;
  • fishing;
  • Iceland;
  • whale watching


Arctic and North Atlantic fishing communities may seem unlikely candidates for a viable whale-watching industry, because of the prevalent traditional consumptive attitudes towards marine mammals and their uses. The topic of this paper is the introduction of an internationally growing industry of whale watching in a fishing village in north-east Iceland, and how local inhabitants reconcile opposing views on whales, whaling and the new cetacean tourism. The paper also discusses the conflict between fishermen and marine mammals, and how it is managed in an area where fishing is still a mainstay of the economy, and where marine mammals are seen by many as competitors for scarce resources, and even as pests. This anthropological case study is used to address wider issues of adaptation, community viability and resilience in small resource-dependent coastal settlements, coping with rapid social and ecological change.