Posted by: The ocean update | August 25, 2014

Norway kills 729 whales in record year for hunt but demand failing for meat

Leif Einar Karlsen, a whale hunter, shows how to harpoon whales in the port of Svolvaer in 2008

Leif Einar Karlsen, a whale hunter, shows how to harpoon whales in the port of Svolvaer in 2008

August 25th, 2014. More than 720 whales have been harpooned in Norway in the most deadly hunting season since the Government began defying an international ban in 1993.

The number is under the country’s self-imposed quota of 1,286 and the Government claims the four-month hunt is for the “protection and sustainable harvesting of marine resources”.

But retailers are having trouble shifting the huge amount of minke meat in supermarkets, as Norwegians show little appetite for whale.

Some is exported to Japan, which was ordered to end its own whale hunts in the Antarctic by the UN earlier this year.

It had attempted to get around the 1986 international ban by justifying the slaughter of more than 10,000 whales for “scientific purposes”.

Around 21 vessels participated in Norway’s whaling season this year, which takes place off the northern coast.

Åge Eriksen, director of fishing firm Hopen Fisk, told NRK Nordland that the number of catches has posed challenges for sellers.

“Good catches are positive, but we now face market challenges,” he said.

“We possess more meat than we can sell and that is not a favourable position to be in.”

Good weather conditions, with flat seas, helped the hunt and warm weather reportedly increased the demand for grilled whale.

The Norwegian Government’s fishing ministry claimed there are 71,000 minke whales in the central Atlantic off Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

A statement said : “Norwegian whaling is based on the principle of protection and sustainable harvesting of marine resources.

“Management of resources is founded on scientific advice, with the objective based on the concept of an ecosystem approach.” (Ed Sibylline : without money to study these populations, how would it be possible to affirm this without lying ?)

Inspectors ensure compliance with whaling regulations, it added, and whalers have to take an annual course on safety and on ways to “ensure that as little pain and stress as possible is inflicted” on the mammals.

But animal rights campaigners claim there is no humane way to kill a whale and have recorded incidents where the animals take 10 minutes or more to die.

In an open letter urging Norway’s Prime Minister to put a stop to whaling, the animal charity Peta said: “The suffering experienced by these animals before death as they are shot with exploding harpoons and rifles is indefensible and would be illegal if farmed animals in Norway were the victims.

“These animals’ right to live should be respected, and Norway itself would benefit from promoting whale watching rather than whale killing as a commercial enterprise.

“A cruel industry like whaling has no place in your country – or any country.”

Ed SibyllineNorwegian Minke Whaling : Killing Methods (lien)

Killing methods (source)

In modern commercial and “scientific” whale hunts the primary killing method is the penthrite (pentaerythritol tetranitrate) grenade harpoon, which is fired from a cannon mounted on the prow of the hunting vessel. The harpoon, which is aimed by hand, creates an initial hole in the whale’s body that is about 8 inches (20 cm) wide and 12 inches (30 cm) deep; the grenade in the harpoon then explodes, causing massive injury or death to the whale through laceration or trauma, including neurotrauma (trauma to the brain) produced by shock waves. Spring-loaded claws in the point of the harpoon extend to anchor the harpoon in the whale’s flesh, thereby also widening the hole in its body to about 24 inches. The whale can then be towed by the line attached to the harpoon. Often, however, the primary killing method fails to dispatch the whale; in that case, secondary killing methods, usually consisting of another penthrite grenade harpoon or several rifle shots, are used. If the first harpoon remains in the whale, the attached line serves to slow the animal or hold it in place while secondary killing methods are applied. Unfortunately, little data are available regarding the effectiveness of secondary killing methods, except as used in aboriginal subsistence whaling (see below).

In 1982 the IWC banned the use of the “cold,” or nonexploding, harpoon (also propelled by cannon) as inhumane, because the time it took to kill a whale by means of it was deemed excessive. Nevertheless, Japan continues to use the cold harpoon as a secondary killing method in its JARPN hunts. Until 1997 Japan also used a weapon called an electric lance, designed to kill whales by electrocution.

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