A new documentary just aired on Norwegian Public Broadcasting reveals some alarming details regarding Norway’s hunting of Minke whales. The release of Slaget om kvalen (translated as “Battle of Agony”) has sparked outrage within the conservation community.
“Hunting of Minke Whales is now even more unacceptable,”
said Truls Gulowsen, the head of Greenpeace Norway. What has particularly incensed conservationists is that approximately 90% of the Minke whales harpooned are female and “almost all” of them are pregnant. (photo – Dagur BrynjolfissonFflickr)
Dag-Myklebust, a captain and harpoonist said “We have a professional approach and therefor we don’t think about it” adding that if they are pregnant “that is a sign of good health.”
Although today there are approximately 1 million Minke whales, the continued hunting of pregnant females may not auger good health for the Minke’s future.
Norway Defies Whaling Ban
Norway has defied the 1986 International Whaling Commission’s ban on commercial whaling and is the world’s top whaling nation, followed by Japan and Iceland. Norway has a quota of 999 Minke whales for 2017 an increase of 10% from the previous year. When you include whales hunted by indigenous communities, twice as many whales are killed worldwide today as were killed in the early 1990s. (photo – EcoWatch)
Whale Burgers and Dogfood
Norway has repeatedly rejected international criticism of its whaling practices, but domestically it has trouble finding a market for its highly subsidized whale meat. The attempt to market “whale burgers” has largely flopped and sometimes whale meat appears on tourist menus as unspecified “local specialities” or “A Taste of Norway”. Most discouragingly whale meat is sold as dog food. See more in: WDC Whaling in Norway.
Japan faced similar outrage last year when its whaling fleet returned with 333 dead minke whales of which two/thirds were female and 90 percent of those females were pregnant. Japan’s whaling fleet operates under the very thin guise of doing “scientific research”. Read the entire story in EcoWatch (photo – Port Douglas Reef Tours)
A Market Solution for Protecting Whales??
A controversial proposal put forward in NATURE is that maybe there is a “market solution” for saving Minke whales. “Hunters could buy the right to kill whales and Conservationists could pay to save them.” The proposal follows a fisheries management system known as “catch shares”. Sustainable harvest levels for whales would be established, but then this is where the proposal differs by allowing conservationists to bid for whales along with whalers. The whales purchased by conservationists would be removed from the quota. (photo – James Cook University)
According to the proposal’s author Christopher Costello of the University of California, he estimates that the global whaling industry makes about #31 million, probably less once government subsidies are removed. While the anti-whaling groups like Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace and the World Wildife Fund spend nearly $25 million to take on the whalers.
“This money could be used to purchase whales, arguably with the same or better effect,” argues Costello. see: A Market Proposal for Saving Whales.
Does the future for whales lie in negotiations instead of confrontations.
Patrick Ramage of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says that today’s commercial whaling depends on support from government subsidies.
“Fresh approaches are needed” the reasons to end whaling needs to make sense to the decisions makers in Tokyo, Oslo and Reykjavik. For a wrap-around of all the latest news on whales see our latest post: A Whale of a Tale
Stop Whaling: Sign a Petition
Avaaz is petitioning the Norwegian government, the European Commission and the leaders of countries that allow shipments of Norwegian whale products to pass over their borders.
“As concerned global citizens we appeal to the Norwegian government to end the whale slaughter, and to all others to close your ports to Norwegian whale meat shipments. Your decision will set precedent that could save thousands of whales, and help stop whaling across Europe. “
Find this petition here: Stop the World’s Biggest Whale Slaughter. Also be sure to read our new post on the amazing new marine creatures discovered in the deepest ocean, see:Awesome and a Bit Bizarre Marine Life Discoveries
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