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Norwegians Lose their Appetite for Whale Meat

New economic study reveals why Norwegian whaling is a thing of the past

April 5, 2011

BOSTON, MASS. – Today, during the first week of the Norwegian whaling season, three animal welfare organizations released a new economic study, revealing that the Norwegian public’s appetite for whale meat is at an all-time low. The report – from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), NOAH-for dyrs rettigheter and Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge – also indicates that Norway’s 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 now counts less than 20 vessels taking part in the annual hunt and estimates that less than one percent of fishermen participate in whaling.

Tanya Schumacher, Marine Mammal Advisor in Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge, said: “It is clear the public has little appetite for whale 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 percent of whales in Norwegian whale hunts do not die immediately and do suffer. Keeping this industry alive defies logic.”

Despite the Norwegian public clearly being concerned about the animal welfare impacts of whaling, the Norwegian government has replaced whaling inspectors with a less costly automated data collection system, leading to insufficient oversight of killing methods.

Joanna Toole, Oceans Campaigns Coordinator at WSPA, said: “Norwegian whaling is not only inherently cruel, it is neither wanted nor needed. With this economic argument bolstering our argument against whaling on welfare grounds, it is about time that the Norwegian government take notice of these clear facts and reconsider their whaling policy.”

Today, NOAH – for dyrs rettigheter and Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge will hand over the report to the leader of the Trade and Industry Committee in the Norwegian parliament urging him to make whaling a thing of the past.

About the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is the world’s largest alliance of animal welfare organizations, currently representing more than 1,000 member societies in more than 150 countries. WSPA strives to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends. WSPA brings about change at both grassroots and government levels to benefit animals, and has consultative status at the Council of Europe and the United Nations. For more information, visit our website, follow us on Twitter and “Like” our Facebook page.

About NOAH
NOAH was founded in 1989 and has over 3,000 members and active supporters committed to promoting NOAH’s message of respect for the lives of animals. NOAH works in all areas of animal rights, through changing attitudes, influencing politicians and industry parties, initiating public debate and documenting animal abuse.

About Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge
Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge is Norway’s oldest and largest animal welfare organization and has, since 1859, worked toward ensuring animals are treated with respect and compassion. Counting thousands of members, Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge advocates animal welfare to the public, authorities and media.

Media Contact
Laura Flannery
WSPA U.S. Communications Manager
(617) 896-9291  



WSPA, NOAH-for dyrs rettigheter and Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge highlight the following concerns and recommendations in the report:

• Norwegian whaling benefits from a wide range of public sector supports which are currently keeping the industry afloat – despite substantial scepticism toward public support to whaling amongst Norwegians.

The three groups request an independent review of Norwegian whaling policy. This review must include a thorough cost-benefit analysis to determine whether it is justifiable for the government to continue to support this industry.

• Public funds are directed at research and promotional initiatives aiming to increase the market for whale products.

The three groups request that the Norwegian government stop funding the industry’s research, lobbying and marketing activities.

• Some Norwegian politicians have put forward claims that the economic value of whaling is also in predator control to ensure increased values in fish catches, despite the fact that this has not been scientifically proven.

The three groups request that the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries stop perpetuating the myth that whaling is economically important for fishing.

• The high-cost-low-profit reality of Norwegian whaling has resulted in the “Blue Box” replacing inspectors in an effort to reduce costs. As a result, Norwegian whaling currently lacks sufficient oversight of the way in which the whales are killed.

The three groups request that the Norwegian Government does not cut corners on animal welfare due to the economic strain on the industry, but should reinstate the full inspector system and collect complete welfare data from hunts. This should be made publicly available and submitted to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) as requested by IWC Resolution 2004-3.

• Norway is falling behind the changing attitudes of the majority of the international community that whales are far more valuable alive than dead.

The three groups request that the Norwegian Government look to the examples set by other countries who previously conducted commercial whaling but now operate thriving whale watching industries. The Government should put an end to commercial whaling and instead focus on furthering the growth of a responsible whale watching industry.


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