Norway’s whaling: disregarding welfare, defying logic

Dec 9, 2009

This Norwegian whaling ship, with a minke butchered on deck, represents a dying but defiant industry

Norway’s recently announced 2010 whaling quota is their largest since choosing to defy the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium – effectively a ban – on commercial whaling in 1993. But as Norway take hunting to new levels, so WSPA’s defense of whale welfare is growing.

Next year, 1,286 sociable and sentient minke whales are earmarked to die in Norwegian waters.

Norway and Iceland are the only nations hunting whales under ‘objection’ to the commercial whaling ban. This is the first time in recent years that Norway has overtaken Japan in terms of sheer numbers of animals they plan to slaughter.

Norway’s own official data shows that at least one in five hunted whales suffer long and agonizing deaths from harpoon and rifle wounds – visibility, sea swells and whale movements make it impossible to ensure a humane kill.

Why increase quotas now?

In 2009 Norway’s whaling season was cut short, the industry admitting diminishing demand. A key Norwegian buyer – previously purchasing about 30 per cent of the nation’s whale meat – also stopped selling it, citing lack of profitability.

So whaling is not only horrifically cruel – it isn’t clearly wanted, and certainly is not needed.

But despite this lack of interest, the animals that survived 2009’s short season were ‘rolled over’ to 2010, swelling the numbers.

WSPA’s Claire Bass: “The Norwegian government’s decision to allow its largest catch in 25 years defies all logic – the market simply isn’t there and setting an absurdly huge quota is not going to change that.”

“The government must stop providing life-support to this dying industry. It should instead invest time and money in developing its whale watching industry – by far the most lucrative, sustainable and humane use of whales in the 21st century.”

What is WSPA doing to protect whale welfare?

Face to face with whales: Working within Norway to change the way whales are viewed has sparked support for our Big Picture campaign

With your ongoing support, we are working in Norway to:

  • Change minds Our exhibition of life-size whale photos, accompanied by information on the welfare issues they face, is being shown in a whaling town. With Norwegian partner organizations Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge and NOAH - for dyrs rettigheter, we aim to inspire people to see whales as individuals in need of protection.

  • Lobby the government Alongside the exhibition, our 'Big Picture' campaign is already on the way to collecting its target of 10,000 Norwegian anti-whaling signatures by April 2010. These will be presented to the government as the whaling season begins, along with our request for an urgent review of its pro-whaling position.

  • Gather evidence We are confident that our soon-to-be commissioned independent study of the economics of Norway’s whale usage will demonstrate that whale watching has the potential to be a more lucrative and sustainable industry than whaling, and is the future for Norway's relationship with whales.

  • Create an international spotlight Next summer we launch a global online campaign, allowing everyone to share their concerns with the Norwegian government and call for an end to whaling.

By focusing on Norway – now the world’s biggest single threat to whales – we aim to spell the beginning of the end for whaling industries.

What can I do?

Please support our work to protect whales, in Norwegian waters and beyond.

Your donation helps us: campaign for better whale welfare; support local and national groupslobby for a permanent commercial whaling ban on welfare grounds; investigate and prove the cruelty and waste of the mass slaughter of whales – ultimately changing decision makers’ minds.

Please make a gift to WSPA today >>

Explore WSPA’s resources on whaling >>

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