Heartbreaking News As Norwegian Whalers Slaughter More Than 580 Whales During The 2022 Season, The Highest Number In Six Years

Photo from The Animal Fund

In defiance of a 40-year-old international agreement to protect whales, Norway allowed for the slaughter of at least 580 whales in less than six months during the 2022 whaling season. Sadly, Norway continues to kill far more whales than any other nation and this year’s slaughter marks the highest number of whales senselessly killed for their meat in six years.

Last year, 575 whales were slaughtered and an appalling total of more than 15,000 have been killed by Norwegian whalers since 1986, when the International Whaling Commission (IWC) ban on commercial whaling took effect.

Whales are typically shot with grenade harpoons, which can cause the animals to suffer as long as 25 minutes before dying. A 2021 survey indicated that six of 10 Norwegians disapprove of this practice. New research also indicates that whales are vital for marine ecosystem health, including harnessing the ocean’s ability to capture carbon. It’s clear that whaling should have ended long ago.

It is unlikely that the high number of whales killed this season will translate into increased profits for the whaling industry, as demand continues to drop. According to a poll commissioned last year by NOAH, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), only 2% of Norwegians eat whale meat often, down from 4% in 2019. Among women, only 1% said they ate whale meat often, and no respondents under the age of 35 said they ate whale meat often.

“As consumer polls show, Norway’s domestic market for whale meat is dwindling, and the country’s whaling industry relies on Japan to keep its head above water,” Kate O’Connell, marine wildlife consultant for AWI, said in a statement. “Already this year, 226 tons of whale meat have been shipped to Japan; a second shipment of 124 tons is imminent. Norway is tarnishing its reputation around the globe by defying the international commercial whaling moratorium, and undermining an international trade ban on whale products. Healthy whale populations are an important tool in tackling climate change, yet the industry continues to peddle whale meat for dog food or dump it into the sea.”

Vanessa Williams-Grey, campaign coordinator at WDC also noted that many Norwegians have been misled for decades by propaganda from the whalers suggesting that they need to kill whales because they consume commercially valuable fish.

“In fact, research over the last 10 years shows that the more whales we have, the better it is for marine ecosystems,” stated Williams-Grey.

A clear example of this is that after several decades of industrial whaling in the Antarctic Ocean, the amount of krill declined. Research shows that whales help circulate nutrients and increase the production of phytoplankton in the sea. Thus, more whales can increase the amount of fish that feed on plankton. Further, whales counteract climate change by increasing carbon uptake in the sea.

International opposition to whaling remains strong, based, in part, on new knowledge about how important whales are to the ecosystem. Iceland is signaling a possible end to commercial whaling by 2024, which will leave Norway and Japan as the only countries in the world that continue commercial whale hunts.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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