Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993 after switching to ‘research’ when the IWC ban on commercial whaling was introduced in 1986.
Norwegian whalers are aiming to kill 1,052 minke whales this year most of the animals killed will be the larger, and therefore more profitable, female minke whales, often pregnant.
The International Whaling Commission has called repeatedly on Norway to respect the whaling ban but every year the number of whales killed is increasing.
Norway claims whales must be culled as they are a threat to fishstocks. However, human over-fishing is to blame for dwindling stocks and this in turn is a threat to whales and the entire marine ecosystem.
Norway is the founding country of modern commercial whaling. A Norwegian invented the exploding grenade harpoon and harpoon cannon. Norway has killed more whales than any other country, devastating one whale species after another. Norwegian whalers have consistently cheated on quotas, obstructed conservation efforts, and treated world public opinion with contempt.
Although Norway has made great efforts to improve the humaneness of its whaling operations, they remain sickeningly cruel. Reported times to death (TTDs) still average several minutes, with some whales suffering from truly terrible injuries for over one hour or more. Some whales are re-shot with another harpoon while others are finished off with rifle fire. Pregnant whales are deliberately targeted by the whalers for their larger size, to increase profits.
The ‘rats of the sea’
When the IWC introduced the whaling ban in 1986; the Norwegian Government lodged an objection to the ban. The Norwegians also objected to the IWC’s decision to protect the seriously depleted north-east Atlantic minke whale population a year earlier in 1985 when scientific evidence revealed the minke whale population had declined by up to 70%. This is hardly surprising when you consider that Norwegian whalers have slaughtered over 100,000 minke whales since the 1930’s, when coastal whaling began. There is no evidence of any recovery in minke numbers but then whaling has never stopped, However, Norwegian officials have described minke whales as the ‘rats of the sea’ that must be culled.
Norway’s defiance of the IWC ban should have resulted in economic sanctions from the United States. The threat of possible trade restrictions on Norwegian fisheries exports resulted in the Norwegian Government suspending commercial whaling activities at the end of the 1987 season. Unfortunately, these sanctions never materialised. Following Iceland’s lead, Norway switched to a ‘scientific’ whaling programme which ran between 1988 and 1994, killing a further 288 minke whales. Not only did ‘scientific whaling’ prevent US sanctions, it kept both the whaler’s hopes and their industry alive. At the IWC, Norway’s whaling was repeatedly criticised but the Norwegian delegation responded with increasing intransigence. Within Norway, the Government was showing increasing sympathy for the whalers, however, it has since been revealed that this support was merely to secure northern votes for the government at that time – they were buying votes with dead whales.
Just two weeks after the 1993 IWC meeting in Glasgow, Norwegian whalers defiantly resumed commercial hunting. The Norwegian Government set a quota of 160 minke whales with an additional ‘scientific’ catch of 112 whales thrown in. That year, 226 minkes were killed and Norway braced itself for a storm of protests, boycotts and US trade sanctions. Unfortunately, the US declined to impose trade sanctions and a public boycott campaign soon fell away. As a result, Norway continued to defy the IWC and has rapidly increased its unilateral quotas to over 1,000 whales each year. Norwegian hunters have killed almost 8,000 north-Atlantic minke whales since commercial whaling was banned in 1986.
Norway’s whale smuggling shame
In October 1993, an illegal shipment of nearly 3 tonnes of minke whale meat was discovered at Oslo airport, in crates labelled as “shrimps”, destined for Japan. Under a deal with the US, Norway imposed an export ban on all whale products in order to avoid sanctions. Other smuggling attempts were also uncovered, including 6 tonnes of Norwegian whale meat seized by Japanese customs in April 1996. Most recently, DNA analysis has revealed meat from north-Atlantic minkes, and other endangered species, on sale in Japan.
Norway’s secret agenda
Norway claims the commercial slaughter of minke whales, and other commercially valuable marine mammals such as harp seals, is necessary because they are a threat to fish stocks. However, over-fishing, climate change and other environmental factors are the cause of the decline in fisheries, not whales and seals. Nevertheless, the Norwegian Government persists with claims that marine mammals must be culled and has spent large sums of money portraying minke whaling as a small-scale and ‘traditional’ activity. It is neither. Commercial minke whaling dates back only to the 1930’s in Norway, and there is nothing small-scale about an industry that plans to slaughter up to 2,500 minke whales each year, as well as other threatened whale species. Neither, would Norwegian whalers suffer if they were not allowed to catch whales, as they enjoy a good standard of living from fishing.
1) Contact Your Norwegian Embassy
H.E. Mr Kim Traavik (starts September 2010)
Royal Norwegian Embassy
25 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8QD
Telephone: 020 7591 5526
Fax: 020 7245 6993
Contact the Norwegian Embassy in your Country urging them to end all whaling. For details please click here
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