Hundreds of whales face slaughter as Norway’s killing season resumes

As the annual and highly controversial Norwegian whale hunt begins, Joanna Toole argues the evidence proving the practice is cruel, unnecessary and increasingly unpopular is now overwhelming

Today is the official start of the whaling season in Norway. Norway is one of just three countries defying the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling. This moratorium on whaling was implemented by a qualifying majority of member states of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in attempt to put a stop to a hunting practice which was leading to the near extinction of several whale species.

Despite the international opposition, Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993 and has since killed over 9,500 whales. This year, 1,286 sociable and sentient minke whales are earmarked to die in Norwegian waters in the hunting season which runs between April and August. …


… – in the first week of the Norwegian whaling season, three animal welfare groups, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, NOAH-for dyrs rettigheter and Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge, released a new economic study on Norwegian whaling, revealing the Norwegian public’s appetite for whale meat is at an all time low and the whaling industry is unlikely to survive without substantial financial support at taxpayers’ expense.

Siri Martinsen, Veterinarian in NOAH-for dyrs rettigheter, said: “The Government states that whaling is a non-subsidised activity. Nevertheless, whaling related activites such as promotion, marketing and research are receiving significant government funds. It is absurd that taxpayers’ financial support for whaling is almost as high as the landing value of the meat. These forced attempts to increase the viability of whaling need to end.”

The report highlights the unpopularity of whale meat in Norway, revealing that fewer than five percent of Norwegians eat it regularly. Notably, young people are particularly uninterested in trying whale meat. The low demand is reflected by the whaling industry which counts less than 20 vessels taking part in the annual hunt and estimates that less than one percent of fishermen are whaling – representing a maximum of 50 jobs for this season.

Tanya Schumacher, Marine Mammal Advisor in Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge, said: “It is clear the public has little appetite for the products. It is also a principle of Norwegian animal welfare law, that animals should not suffer unnecessarily. Unfortunately, according to the available government figures, 20% of whales in Norwegian whale hunts do not die immediately and do suffer. Keeping this industry alive defies logic.”

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