On 30th Anniversary of Whaling Moratorium, Norwegian Whaling Ignored

Norwegian Whaling Vessel - Photo by N. Seeliger

NGOs urge European Union to take lead in ending whaling in European waters

Portorož, Slovenia—During the 66th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), conservation organizations openly criticized the fact that actions against commercial whaling are absent from the IWC agenda. A petition directed at the European Union was presented to IWC delegates by Pro Wildlife (Germany), the Animal Welfare Institute (USA), and OceanCare (Switzerland), along with their joint report “Frozen in Time: How Modern Norway Clings to Its Whaling Past.” The report details Norway’s undermining of the IWC ban on commercial whaling and exposes the serious growth of Norway’s overseas trade in whale products.

The three organizations are highlighting the fact that European citizens, as well as member states of the IWC, expect the European Union to lead efforts to end commercial whaling in European waters. While Australia and New Zealand address whaling in the Southern Ocean, and the Latin American countries advocate for the establishment of a sanctuary within the South Atlantic, the European Union has arrived at the IWC meeting with empty hands and the highest number of whales killed in neighboring waters.

“While the IWC is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the commercial whaling moratorium, Norway continues with its hunts, by invoking its formal objection and granting itself catch quotas without the approval of the IWC,” stated Nicolas Entrup, spokesperson for OceanCare. “Over recent years Norway has silently become the world’s number one whaling nation – killing more whales than Japan and Iceland combined.” Norway killed nearly 600 minke whales during its 2016 whaling season.

“We are disappointed that the EU came to this jubilee IWC meeting with empty hands: They failed to submit a resolution against commercial whaling in European waters,” criticized Sandra Altherr of Pro Wildlife. “Since 2001, the IWC has not passed a single resolution on commercial whaling – and this silence is interpreted by Norway’s government and others as acceptance of its bloody business.” 

“Norway's domestic market for whale meat and blubber is extremely limited and the whaling industry is relying almost exclusively on Japan to keep itself afloat,” stated Kate O’Connell, marine wildlife consultant for the Animal Welfare Institute. “In September, a Norwegian company shipped 195 metric tons of whale meat to Japan, the largest export of whale products to Japan by Norway since the moratorium.”

The groups note that these exports undermine the international trade ban on whale products put into effect by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In support of the IWC moratorium, parties to CITES listed large whales on the treaty’s Appendix I, banning commercial trade in these species. Since then, CITES has regularly reminded parties not to issue export or import permits for whale products.

To read the organizations’ report, “Frozen in Time: How Modern Norway Clings to Its Whaling Past,” visit https://awionline.org/sites/default/files/products/AWI-ML-NorwayReport-072016.pdf. To view statistics on the number of whales killed by Iceland, Japan and Norway between 2001 and 2015, visit http://oceancare.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Walfang_Whales-Killed-by-Iceland-Norway-Japan-2001-2015.pdf.

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Media Contact:
Amey Owen, (202) 446-2128, amey@awionline.org

About the Animal Welfare Institute
The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information, visit awionline.org.

About OceanCare
OceanCare has been working for marine wildlife and ocean protection since 1989. In July 2011 the organisation has been granted the Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. OceanCare has been an observer at the IWC since 1992 and is very familiar with the people and rules within this forum. OceanCare published studies on the health risks associated with cetacean meat consumption, thereby initiating cooperation between the IWC and the WHO. Further, OceanCare is represented in the IWC Scientific Committee since 2015. This year in Slovenia, OceanCare will once again strive to achieve optimum protection for cetaceans. www.oceancare.org.

About Pro Wildlife
Pro Wildlife is a Germany-based charity, dedicated to the protection of wildlife. Pro Wildlife supports in situ projects in several African and Asian countries and runs awareness campaigns to reduce wildlife trade and poaching. Pro Wildlife is regularly attending conferences, such as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to improve the worldwide protection status of wildlife.