Whalewatch, a coalition of more than 140 non-governmental organisations from over 55 countries, has condemned Norway over its decision to allow whalers to kill almost 800 minke whales by the end of August.
Norway’s whaling season began yesterday and the quota of whales that will die, up from 670 in 2004, is the largest set by the Norwegian government since it resumed whaling in 1993 in defiance of the existing ban on commercial whaling that came into effect in 1986.
Speaking on behalf of Whalewatch, Kitty Block, from the HSUS/Humane Society International (HSI), said:
“By increasing the number of whales that it plans to kill this year, Norway is once again defying world opinion and flouting the existing international ban on commercial whaling. Norway should be condemned for sanctioning the cruelty that whaling represents. Whalewatch is calling for an end to all commercial and ‘scientific’ whaling, as there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea.”
For the first time, Norway’s whaling boats will sail without a government inspector aboard. These officials have been replaced with an automated data-collection mechanism called a ‘Blue Box’ that is not expected to be able to verify, as effectively as a human, that whales are killed humanely.
The start of Norway’s whaling season coincides with the recent return of Japan’s whaling fleet from the Antarctic Ocean, having killed up to 440 minke whales for ‘research’ in a designated whale sanctuary, with another scientific whaling programme currently taking place in the North Pacific coastal waters off Japan. According to recent reports, Japan plans to double the number of whales that it will kill each year in the name of research.
A comprehensive report, ‘Troubled Waters’, released by Whalewatch last year, provides hard scientific evidence into the welfare implications of modern whaling activities.
It supports what has long been believed, that these highly evolved mammals experience extreme trauma and suffering in the hunt and kill process. Whales can take over two minutes to die after being harpooned and in some cases for over an hour after the harpoon has struck.
Although commercial whaling has been banned since 1986, over 25,000 whales have been killed since this ban came into force and more than 1,400 whales are expected to die this year alone. Japan and Iceland kill hundreds of whales between them each year for ‘research’. The whale meat is then sold commercially.
In June, the IWC will be holding its annual meeting in Ulsan, South Korea, where pro-whaling countries may have a voting majority for the first time since whaling was banned in 1986.
Whalewatch will be lobbying to keep the ban on whaling in place and prevent any compromise deal that could bring back commercial whaling.