Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Norway Takes First Blood

Norwegian whale hunters have harpooned their first three whales of the year.
The whales were killed on April 29th., nearly a month after the hunting season began. Norway's whale hunting season runs 01 April-31 August, but weather conditions were poor in April and the vessels had been busy until now with other fishing activities.
Norway, Iceland and Japan are the only countries to defy the 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling, claiming minke whale stocks are large enough to justify limited hunts. Japan uses a loophole that allows killing the animals for "research," but most of its meat is headed straight for commercial markets...or at least onto its growing aging stockpile.
For this year's season, Norway has set itself a quota of 1,286 minke whales (the same as last year) even though the country's dwindling whaling fleet is having trouble filling the quota. Last year 19 boats took part in the hunt, taking just 533 animals. This season, only 18 of the 20 boats signed up for the hunt are expected to participate.
Fishermen's Sales Organisation spokesman Per Rolandsen: "The problem is to sell the meat. We hope sales will go better this year and that Norwegians will consume more whale meat." But "hoping" cannot make the trade or the product more palatable. Less than 5% of his countrymen eat whalemeat regularly. Norway and Iceland export the vast majority of their whalemeat to Japan (newly released Icelandic export figures for Feb.2012 showed Iceland exported an additional 130 tonnes of frozen whale products to Japan). But Japan also doesn't move much whalemeat domestically. The consequence is that its national stockpile at last count (2011) was something around the 6,000 tonne mark!
Why do these countries persist in such an uneconomic, cruel and hugely unpopular enterprise?
And curiously was does Japan insist on stockpiling whalemeat it neither needs nor uses?

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