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Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...
Fin whale

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...
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Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales has ended for this year. The common minke whale is the...
Port River dolphins

New report reveals 100,000 dolphins and small whales hunted every year

When you hear the words ‘dolphin hunts’ it’s likely that you think of Japan or...

Japan set to resume commercial whaling

Reports from Japan suggest that the government they will formally propose plans to resume commercial...

End the whale hunts! Icelandic fin whaler isolated as public mood shifts

Here’s a sight I hoped never again to witness. A boat being scrubbed and repainted...

Australian Government to block Japanese whaling proposal

Japanese Government officials have reportedly confirmed that they will propose the resumption of commercial whaling...

Pregnant whales once again a target for Japanese whalers

Figures from Japan's whaling expedition to Antarctica during the 2017/18 austral summer have revealed that...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake

Icelandic whalers out hunting fin whales for the first time in three years appear to...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate...

Norway's whaling season begins

April 1st saw the start of the whaling season in Norway. Despite a widely-accepted international moratorium...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

Norway's government has announced an increase in the number of minke whales that can be...

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

Iceland’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur hf,  announced today that it will resume fin whaling...

Really, Norway, you want to kill even more whales though no one wants to eat them?


Norwegian Fisheries Minister, Per Sandberg, has confirmed that Norway has allocated itself a quota of 999 minke whales for the 2017 catchan increase of 119 whales on last year’s quota of 880.

Norwegian whalers hunt minke whales for commercial purposes, exploiting a loophole around the Norway’s ‘objection’ to the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) global ban on commercial whaling and over the past decade, have killed between 464 – 736 minke whales each year. Indeed, some years, Norway has killed more whales than Iceland and Japan combined and these days, is the world´s biggest commercial whaling nation.

However, as Truls Soløy, leader of the Norwegian Whalers Association, admits “people in Norway do not eat whale… there are too few players on the buying side”. The simple fact is that, despite government subsidies and marketing campaigns, domestic demand for whale meat is declining, with young people especially regarding it as ‘old-fashioned’. Only last month, we reported that 5,000 boxes (around 60 tons) of minke whale meat donated by Myklebust Hvalprodukter (Myklebust Whale Products), one of the country’s largest whale meat processors and exporters, were given away. 

Efforts to export to Japan have also met with varying success.  Norway’s exports, which for many years had been very low,  have recently increased sharply and, since 2014, almost 375,000 kg of whale products have been exported to Japan. In early October 2016, almost 3,000 kg of Norwegian whale meat was exported to Japan, transiting at least three EU ports: Malta, Le Havre and Hamburg. Smaller exports have gone to Iceland and the Faroe Islands. However, in 2015, Norwegian whale meat  was dumped by Japan after routine safety tests discovered that it contained up to twice the permitted level of three potentially dangerous pesticides: aldrin, dieldrin and chlordane.

In addition to declining domestic demand and uncertainty around exports, since 2006, the whalers have routinely killed far fewer whales than quotas permit. In 2010 and 2012, for example, Norway’s whalers took only around a third of their self-allocated quota.

 So, why – when demand is down and catch levels, whilst undoubtedly high, still fall far below permitted levels – do quotas remain higher still? Part of the cynical response might be that Norway has long sought to justify its whaling as both ‘sustainable’ and necessary, wheeling out the same ‘whales eat fish and therefore must be culled to protect fish stocks and human fisheries’ arguments that we routinely hear from whaling nations, despite plentiful scientific evidence to the contrary.

This seemingly ludicrous situation is further compounded by the fact that, Norway continues to claim that it abides by the IWC’s scientific advice regarding the calculation of a sustainable whaling quota (a hypothetical advice due to the moratorium). In reality, Norway has, for years, used a far less conservative approach and awarded itself a much higher quota than deemed sustainable by the IWC.  

Given the latest evidence on how important whales are both to healthy oceans and fish stocks, as well as being our partners in the fight against climate change, Norway and the world’s remaining whalers would do well to consider this.

There simply are no ‘sustainable’ quotas and we, as a global community, should work together and do our utmost to conserve and protect whales. It is, after all, becoming increasingly clear that we need them more than they need us.