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Whales an open target for suffering

May 29, 2007

News Release
May 29, 2007 
 
Anchorage, Alaska: New report reveals whales fall through gap in welfare legislation 
 
Whales are left to suffer cruel deaths for the commercial supply of meat in Norway while regulations protect farm animals from pain at slaughter, according to a new report from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).  
 
The report ‘Animal Welfare in Norway: an inconsistent truth', published during the 59th International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Alaska this week, highlights the contradiction in Norwegian regulations that farm animals are protected from pain and prolonged suffering at slaughter but whales are not.  Meanwhile, Norwegian whale hunts continue to supply meat for sale on the same supermarket shelves as pork, beef and chicken. 
 
Norway's own data has shown that one in five whales do not die instantaneously, with some taking over an hour to die. WSPA and WDCS highlight that there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea and call on Norway to end its commercial whaling program.
 
WDCS's Philippa Brakes said, “Norway is damaging its own animal welfare reputation by failing to protect whales from suffering at slaughter. Norwegian whale hunts can cause immense and unnecessary suffering for the commercial production of meat yet, under Norwegian law, the methods used to kill whales would not be tolerated during livestock slaughter. ”
 
In a poll released this week by WSPA and the Norwegian Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge), two thirds of Norwegians agreed that all mammals killed for commercial purposes in Norway should be afforded the same level of legislative protection to prevent pain and prolonged suffering.  Yet, since the global ban on commercial whaling entered into force, Norway has killed over 7100 minke whales using methods that include an unacceptably high margin of error. 
 
WSPA's program manager for marine mammals, Claire Bass said, “Our poll makes it clear that the majority of Norwegians are opposed to the prolonged suffering inherent to whale hunts, yet the cruel killing continues. Whale welfare should not be out of mind simply because it is out of sight - these hunts should stop on cruelty grounds alone.”
 
Whales are targeted from a moving platform on a moving sea, making it difficult to ensure a clean shot. Some of those that survive the initial explosive harpoon are dragged towards the vessel and struck with another harpoon or shot with a rifle. 
 
In contrast, farmed animals in Norway are protected by regulations which ensure they are killed swiftly after being stunned; slaughtered out of sight of other animals; and secured first to ensure the process of stunning doesn't cause unnecessary pain, stress or injury. 
 
WDCS and WSPA urge the Norwegian Government to ensure consistency of welfare standards for all animals slaughtered for commercial meat production by immediately ceasing their whaling operations.  They further urge the Government to provide comprehensive data to the IWC so it can be analyzed to ensure the true welfare implications of whaling can be made available to the public.
 
Press contact:
Dena Jones, Program Manager
617-896-9292
djones@wspausa.org 

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