Whaling season ends with more than 600 whales harpooned

Tuesday, November 1, 2005
London, United Kingdom
Norway’s 2005 whaling season closed at midnight (October 31st) with a total catch of 639 minke whales.
Whalers had been hunting since April, the earliest start to the whaling season since Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993, but they did not manage to harpoon the full catch allowance of 796 set by the Norwegian Government. This was despite two extensions to the deadline, originally set for the end of August.

Bad weather was blamed for low catches over the summer, but many boats continued to hunt. Whaling is now cheaper as boats are no longer required to have a human inspector on board to check boats comply with Norway’s whaling regulations.

This year’s catch allowance was the highest since commercial whaling resumed, and included the remainder of last year’s catch. A major marketing drive aimed at encouraging sales of whale meat saw several new products, such as whale burgers, whale ham and sliced whale beef introduced in Norwegian shops in recent months.

IFAW opposes whaling on the grounds of cruelty and promotes responsible whale watching as a humane and sustainable alternative to whaling. Around 20,000 people go whale watching in Norway each summer.

Ellie Dickson, marine campaigner with IFAW UK, said: “Whaling is cruel; there is no humane way to kill a whale. It is also unsustainable and unnecessary. We encourage Norway and other whaling nations to value and protect their marine life. Responsible whale watching is far more sustainable, both in terms of conservation and economics.”

A new system of electronic monitoring, known as a blue box, is replacing most of the inspectors. The box records the number of harpoons fired, the position of the vessel, the time between shooting and hauling the whale aboard, and other technical details.

While the Norwegian Government has continued to raise its official quota in recent years, its whalers are consistently failing to meet it. In 2004 they took 543 minkes from a quota of 670; total catches also fell short of the quotas set in 2002 and 2003. This has been partly attributed to bad weather conditions, but in 2004 whalers caught their full quota in coastal regions, and chose not to venture further off-shore for economic reasons.

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