Norwegian Whaling: A Sinking Industry

A recent poll co-funded by AWI and other animal protection and conservation organizations paints a bleak picture for the Norwegian whaling industry’s future. Only 4 percent of Norwegians surveyed said they ate whale meat “often.” In the 18–29 age group, no one said they ate whale meat often, and 75 percent said they never eat it. The head of the Norwegian Whalers’ Association has acknowledged that the 2019 whaling season was especially poor, with a total of 429 minke whales killed out of a self-allocated quota of 1,278. Yet, the same quota has been allocated for 2020.

The Norwegian government has long subsidized the struggling industry, funding marketing campaigns that have failed to convince the public that whale burgers are a “must have” menu item. For years, the Norwegian whaling industry supplemented its income by selling whale blubber, organs, and scraps to domestic fur farms for use as animal feed. However, new legislation banning fur farming in Norway will soon shut down that income source. 

In light of these difficulties, Norwegian whalers have turned to exports. In October 2019, the Myklebust whaling company shipped 200 metric tons of whale meat to Japan, one of the largest such shipments from Norway in decades. But with Japan’s resumption of commercial whaling earlier this year, this desperate attempt to keep Norwegian whaling afloat seems unlikely to succeed.

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