Which countries are still whaling?

Despite the 1986 IWC ban on commercial whaling, some countries refuse to end their whaling operations.

  • Japan

Almost immediately after the 1986 whaling ban came into effect, Japan launched its scientific whaling programme, widely recognised as a cover for its ongoing commercial whaling operation.

Meat from these whales — supposedly killed for science — is then sold in food markets or given away free or at low costs to schools and hospitals in marketing drives to encourage the consumption of whale meat .

The Japanese whaling fleet departs twice a year. In the North Pacific, Japanese whalers can kill up to 200 minke whales, 50 Bryde's, 100 sei whales and 10 sperm whales under the guise of scientific research. Vessels had been killing up to 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales each year in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary before the International Court of Justice ruled that this was illegal.

  • Norway

Norway only respected the IWC's whaling ban until 1993. Using a loophole in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, Norway objected to the whaling moratorium, and resumed hunting for minke whales.

Norway sets its own quota for the number of whales its whalers are permitted to kill for commercial reasons. This number has gone up and up, from being allowed to kill 671 minke whales in 2002 to more than 1,000 today. However, in recent years, less than half of this self-allocated catch limit has been taken.

Norway is now hunting a higher proportion of breeding females which could put the long-term survival of minke whales in the North Atlantic in severe danger.

  • Iceland

Like Japan, Iceland initially conducted a 'scientific' whaling programme. Then, in 1992, it withdrew from the IWC. When Iceland re-joined in 2004, it included a clause in its re-entry that spoke out in objection to the whaling moratorium.

In 2006, Iceland resumed commercial whaling, targeting minke and fin whales. In 2010 alone, Icelandic whalers killed 148 endangered fin whales and 60 minke whales.

IFAW's "Meet Us Don't Eat Us!" campaign is currently trying to educate tourists about whales, hunting, and whale meat.