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New footage of Norwegian whaling shows why ban must remain in place

Appalling new footage released today by animal protection groups shows the brutal reality of whaling in Norway, and demonstrates why the international ban on commercial whaling must be enforced - not lifted.

June 15, 2010

London, United Kingdom: As the International Whaling Commission (IWC) prepares to vote on a controversial proposal to lift the ban on commercial whaling, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), along with partners Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals (Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge) and NOAH – for Dyrs Rettigheter, have released footage that shows a minke whale being harpooned by Norwegian whaling vessel “Rowenta” on May 23, 2010. The footage shows the impact of the harpoon and the subsequent failure of the whaling vessel to ensure that the whale was dead over the next 22 minutes.

WSPA’s marine mammal programme manager Joanna Toole said: “This film clearly demonstrates that whaling is crude, unreliable and inhumane. We even witnessed ‘Rowenta’ firing a second harpoon into a minke whale more than two hours later. It’s therefore possible that this whale suffered from horrific harpoon wounds for more than two hours before finally dying. This is not the way we’d expect a modern and civilized society like Norway to treat animals – and certainly not something that the IWC should consider legitimizing.”

Norway is one of just three countries defying the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling. Since it resumed commercial whaling in 1993, Norway has killed more than 8,500 whales despite rising public criticism among Norwegians. Next week, the IWC is expected to vote on a controversial proposal which would allow Norway to kill a further 6,000 whales during the next 10 years, officially suspending the whaling ban.

Carl-Egil Mastad, Director of Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge, said: “Thousands of Norwegians stand with us against this cruel and unnecessary industry – we now need the international community to condemn Norway’s whaling, not endorse it.”

Animal protection groups are today renewing their call to the public to sign an online petition asking Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to stop commercial whaling.

Siri Martinsen, veterinarian for NOAH – for Dyrs Rettigheter said: “The Norwegian government claims that it receives little criticism of its whaling – it’s time to prove them wrong. Without pressure, Norway will not reduce whaling nor take the suffering in consideration – we need people to speak out on behalf of the whales in order to make the government rethink its whaling policies.”

The petitions are available at:
www.whalewatch.org/take_action.htm (English, Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish)
www.detstorebildet.org (Norwegian)

To schedule an interview or for further information, please contact Laura Flannery, U.S. Communications Manager, lflannery@wspausa.org, 617.896.9291.


Notes to editors:

  • The investigation in Norway was carried out in late May 2010. A full report of the investigation is available online. Footage, stills and supporting documents are available - please contact Laura Flannery at the information above.

  • In 2010, despite falling demand for products, the Norwegian government set its highest quota for 25 years, allowing up to 1,286 minke whales to be slaughtered. So far (June 11th) 116 minke whales have been killed.

  • Whales are killed using exploding harpoons which detonate inside the animal’s body causing massive internal injuries and blood loss. In Japanese hunts some 60% of whales survive the initial harpoon explosion, some taking over an hour to die. Norway claims that 80% of whales die instantaneously but has not collected data to corroborate this since 2003.

  • Norway’s inhumane whaling industry contrasts starkly with its progressive 2010 animal welfare act, which calls for respect for animals and strives to protect them from unnecessary suffering.

  • A 2009 poll revealed that only 1% of Norwegians regularly eat whale meat and the industry itself admits demand is falling – the 2009 hunting season was even cut short for this reason.

  • In 2003, partly in a bid to reduce industry overheads, Norway removed welfare inspectors from its whaling fleet and so collects no useful welfare data on the animals killed. With no reporting of vital welfare information – whale suffering is "out of sight, out of mind".

  • Rather than prop up a dying industry, animal protection groups believe the Norwegian government should invest in developing its whale watching industry – by far the most profitable, sustainable and humane use of whales in the 21st century.

  • WSPA, Dyresbeskyttelsen Norge and NOAH- for dyrs rettigheter are all members of Whalewatch, a global network of 50 non-governmental organisations opposed to commercial whaling on welfare grounds – www.whalewatch.org

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