Iceland's Puffin, Although Threatened, Still Appears On Menus - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s Puffin, Although Threatened, Still Appears On Menus

Published November 8, 2018

Andie Fontaine
Main photo by
Magnus Manske/Wikimedia Commons

Despite being officially classified as threatened, and considered at the verge of extinction, one can still find the Atlantic puffin being offered in restaurants around Iceland. Tourists aware of the bird’s status—as well as those taken by its cuteness—have often reacted badly to learning puffin can be ordered off menus.

Páll Ásgeir Ásgeirsson, a tour guide and former journalist, told Fréttablaðið that he has taken to telling tourists to boycott any restaurants who offer puffin.

“I consider it unethical and a bit stupid of restaurants to support puffin hunting in this manner,” he told reporters. “The sooner it ends the better.”

Tourists that Páll has guided have often reacted with shock and sadness to learn Icelanders still serve puffins in restaurants, he says. Not solely because the bird is adorable, but also because many of them are aware that puffin populations have been struggling, to the point where the bird is now in danger of extinction.

Despite the scientific data backing up the puffin’s status, hunting the birds is still permitted in Iceland. The hunting season has, though, been reduced to only about 46 days of the year, from July 1 to August 15. It is still too soon to tell whether a shortened hunting season has helped the population, or if greater restrictions—if not an outright hunting ban—will be needed.

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