Norway's Minister Peddles Seafood in NYC while Whales Die in Norway

Photo from N. Seeliger

Washington, DC—As Norway’s fisheries minister, Per Sandberg, travels around New York June 7-8 to promote Norwegian seafood, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) urges the city’s retailers, consumers and restaurateurs to question the source of any Norwegian seafood due to its possible ties to the country’s barbaric whaling industry.

Sandberg is in town for the Global Compact Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business meeting at the United Nations on June 8 to promote the sustainable use of ocean resources. The Norwegian government is co-hosting the meeting, which coincides with World Oceans Day. Sandberg also plans to visit the well-known fish stall at Chelsea Market during his stay.

“Minister Sandberg’s New York visit to tout his country’s leadership on ocean sustainability and its protection of ocean health and resources ignores the elephant in the room,” said Susan Millward, director of marine programs for AWI. “While he touts Norwegian seafood in New York, Norwegian whalers are brutally slaying minke whales in utter disregard for the international community’s desire to stop commercial whaling.”

Since the Norwegian whaling season began in early April, 163 minke whales have been killed out of a total quota—set by Sandberg—of 1,278. Fifteen Norwegian vessels have permits to whale, and many of these boats also hold licenses to fish for commercially sought-after species such as cod, haddock, pollock and herring.

Norway kills whales in defiance of a moratorium on commercial whaling approved by the International Whaling Commission (of which Norway is a member). Since the moratorium took effect in 1986, Norway has permitted the slaughter of 13,000 minke whales and is second only to Japan in the number of whales killed during this period. Japan provoked international outrage recently after it was revealed that a hunt last summer killed 333 minke whales, including 122 who were pregnant.

Living whales, according to peer-reviewed scientific research, provide significant ecological benefits to the marine environment—including carbon sequestration, increased productivity of fish stocks and marine biodiversity.

AWI urges New York seafood buyers to demand proof that these products did not come from a registered Norwegian whaling vessel. Given low domestic demand for whale meat in Norway, a number of whaling vessels rely on income from fishing to survive. Retailers should perform an audit of their supply chain to rule out whaling links, and AWI is willing to assist in this process.

“Norway is well aware that whales are worth far more alive than dead and yet it chooses to ignore this fact by continuing to promote its cruel and unnecessary whaling industry,” Millward said. “Buyers of Norwegian seafood keep this industry afloat by rewarding whalers.”

For more information on Norwegian whaling, visit: https://awionline.org/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/AWI-ML-NorwayReport-2016.pdf

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Media Contact

Margie Fishman, (202) 446-2128, margie@awionline.org

Photo from N. Seeliger