1st April, 2011
As the annual and highly controversial Norwegian whale hunt begins, Joanna Toole argues the evidence proving the practice is cruel, unnecessary and increasingly unpopular is now overwhelming
Today is the official start of the whaling season in Norway. Norway is one of just three countries defying the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling. This moratorium on whaling was implemented by a qualifying majority of member states of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in attempt to put a stop to a hunting practice which was leading to the near extinction of several whale species.
Despite the international opposition, Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993 and has since killed over 9,500 whales. This year, 1,286 sociable and sentient minke whales are earmarked to die in Norwegian waters in the hunting season which runs between April and August.
For years the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has worked alongside animal welfare groups in Norway to help increase the pressure on the Norwegian government to put a stop to this cruel, outdated and unnecessary practice. So far it has been hard getting through to government officials in the Norwegian home turf and the IWC alike. It has been made clear by the Norwegian government that the argument of whaling being cruel isn’t reason enough to put a stop to the hunts.
However, next week WSPA and Norwegian organisations Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge and NOAH – for Dyrs Rettigheter will release new evidence which demonstrates that public support for whaling in Norway is dwindling, that the Norwegian appetite for whale meat is at an all time low and as a consequence the industry is struggling to survive. The diminishing profitability of the industry is already acknowledged by whalers and the Norwegian government as recent years have seen declining catches and fewer people and vessels involved in the hunts.