Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less
Left: Lemurs in Madagascar on March 30, 2017. Mathias Appel / Flickr. Right: A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. National Marine Fisheries Service

A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.

Read More Show Less
Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular. Colin Dunn / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Julia Vergin

It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Data from a scientist measuring macroalgal communities in rocky shores in the Argentinean Patagonia would be added to the new system. Patricia Miloslavich / University of Delaware

Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.

EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.

Read More Show Less