Norway… Whaling in Crisis (Again)
By far, the most encouraging news on the whaling front is that Norwegians appear to be losing their collective appetite for whale meat. While domestic consumption has been diminishing for a number of years, many supermarkets are now refusing to purchase the meat. Furthermore, Norway cannot export the whale meat it does catch. Japan will not purchase it because it is perceived as “contaminated” and in fact, minke whale meat caught by Norwegian whalers typically has very high levels of bacteria.
Contrary to indicators of environmental attitudes, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Minke Whalers Association contend that Norwegian whaling is threatened more by ready-to-eat processed food rather than by social attitudes towards consuming whales or criticism from environmental NGOs. The Association has requested government assistance to keep the dying industry afloat, arguing that minke whale populations will increase significantly should their hunts end, bringing whales in direct conflict with humans for ever-diminishing fish resources. It is also seeking assistance with government marketing efforts so that supermarket chains will once again embrace and promote the sale of whale meat. It’s uncertain whether they will receive such assistance. Norwegian whalers are allowed to kill 1,286 minke whales between April 1 and August 31 of this year, though it is unlikely that they will take even half of that quota. There are currently 20 vessels in the Norwegian whaling fleet, down from 60 during the 1960’s. Norway’s annual catch from 2000-2010 = 557 whales (source: Kate O’Connell, WDCS).