Quantcast

90% of Minke Whales Killed in Norway Are Female and 'Almost All' Pregnant

Popular

Ninety percent of the minke whales hunted and killed each year in Norwegian waters are female and " almost all" of them are pregnant, according to a documentary aired earlier this month on NRK, a government-owned public broadcasting company.

The documentary, Slaget om kvalen ("Battle of Agony"), shows grisly footage of Norway's whaling industry, including one bloody scene where a fisherman cuts open a whale and removes its fetus.


The release of the documentary has sparked intense outcry from conservation groups in light of Norway's long-standing objection to the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) 1986 ban on commercial whaling.

"Whale hunting is now even more unacceptable," the head of Greenpeace Norway, Truls Gulowsen, told AFP.

"On the one hand because it's in violation of an international ban but also because ... it's indefensible from the point of view of the animal's well-being to hunt them during an advanced stage of gestation."

The estimated present population of minke whales is more than one million.

Norway is the world's top whaling nation, and has a quota to kill 999 minke whales during the 2017 hunting season, up from its quota of 880 whales in 2016.

A 2016 joint report from the Animal Welfare Institute, OceanCare and Pro Wildlife found that in 2014 and 2015, Norway killed more whales than Japan and Iceland combined.

"We have a professional approach and therefore we don't think about it," said Dag Myklebust, the captain and harpoonist on the Norwegian fishing vessel Kato.

He added that the fact that they are pregnant "is a sign of good health," Myklebust added.

An expert told NRK that the killing of pregnant animals is common.

"Lots of slaughtered animals are sent to the slaughterhouse when they are pregnant," said Egil Ole Oen, a veterinarian who specializes in whale hunting.

Norway and Iceland are the only countries that continue to hunt whales despite the IWC's moratorium. Japan also conducts whaling for "research" reasons.

Last year, Japan faced similar scrutiny after its whaling fleet came back with 333 dead minke whales, including 230 that were female and 90 percent of the mature females pregnant.

Animal rights groups remarked that the killing of pregnant whales is especially egregious because it affects the next generation.

"It is horrific to learn that such a high rate of the whales killed in Norway are female and pregnant," OceanCare said in a statement to AFP.

"The whalers are not only killing the current but also part of the next generation of whales," it added.

Astrid Fuchs, the program lead at Whale and Dolphin Conservation said that "the revelations of the film are absolutely shocking."

"Given the fact that a vast majority of the whales is pregnant, the minister's proposed doubling of the quota would mean close to 4,000 whales could be slaughtered each year in European waters," Fuchs noted about Norway's fisheries minister, Per Sandberg, who proposed to double the number of minke whales killed to nearly 2,000 and sell the meat to the European Union.

So how can you help stop this gruesome practice?

In an email to EcoWatch, Gulowsen of Greenpeace Norway suggested contacting the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) about your opposition to the slaughtering of pregnant minke whales. The state-owned NSC is the world's largest generic marketing company for seafood and works to "safeguard" the Norwegian fisheries "positive image"—meaning they probably do not want the negative PR about its whaling industry.

"Although whale products are not exported, the seafood business is part of one large state/private operations, where they are all mutually responsible for each others practices," Gulowsen pointed out.

The Animal Welfare Institute is also urging its supporters to write to Kåre R. Aas, Norway's ambassador to the U.S., "to let him know that you are opposed to his country's continued killing of minke whales" and to "encourage him to support responsible whale watching instead."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Gretchen Goldman

The Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel has released their consensus recommendations to the EPA administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. The group of 20 independent experts, that were disbanded by Administrator Wheeler last October and reconvened last week, hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, has now made clear that the current particulate pollution standards don't protect public health and welfare.

Read More Show Less
An African elephant is pictured on November 19, 2012, in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The unprecedented drought that has caused a water crisis in Zimbabwe has now claimed the life of at least 55 elephants since September, according to a wildlife spokesman, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Maria Dornelas.

By John C. Cannon

Life is reshuffling itself at an unsettling clip across Earth's surface and in its oceans, a new study has found.

Read More Show Less
An Exxon station in Florida remains open despite losing its roof during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Florida Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
El Niño's effect on Antarctica is seen in a tabular iceberg off of Thwaites ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck / NASA

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change, according to a new study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Julia Ries

  • Antibiotic resistance has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • Additionally a new study found one patient developed resistance to a last resort antibiotic in a matter of weeks.
  • Health experts say antibiotic prescriptions should only be given when absolutely necessary in order to avoid growing resistance.

Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the greatest public health threats.

Read More Show Less
Pexels


There are hundreds of millions of acres of public land in the U.S., but not everyone has had the chance to hike in a national forest or picnic in a state park.

Read More Show Less
Workers attend to a rooftop solar panel project on May 14, 2017 in Wuhan, China. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

By Simon Evans

Renewable sources of electricity are set for rapid growth over the next five years, which could see them match the output of the world's coal-fired power stations for the first time ever.

Read More Show Less