When one thinks of a whaling country, Japan comes to mind, however there are other less known countries who also allow whaling. While Japan hunts whale for “scientific research”, countries like Norway and Iceland openly hunt for commercial purposes. While only Iceland hunts a whale on the endangered species list, both countries have refused to change their hunting laws.
In December of 2009, the country of Norway announced that they were raising their self-imposed whaling quota 45%. Effective April 2010, the whaling quota was set to 1,286 minke whales/year [Source: Treehugger]. Interestingly enough, the increase in whales does not correlate to demand. In 2009, hunters could not even match the quota of 882 whales, instead only fishing 484 out of 885 [Source: Telegraph]. According to Clair Bass of the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), “The unilateral decision by the Norwegian government to allow the greatest game in 25 years defies all logic…The market for products derived from whale meat simply does not exist…” Norway has been whaling consistently since 1993 and this recent quota increase despite decreased demand leads some to believe that this is more an attempt to usurp Japan as top whaler [Source: Telegraph].
While the Norwegian government decided unanimously to continue whaling, organizations like the WSPA are working hard to combat this inhumane industry by lobbying the goverment, providing life-size photos and information and most of all gathering international support.
While Iceland has a great reputation for using renewable energy, around 81% is domestic, it has a poor whaling reputation. Before leaving office, former fisheries minister Einar K. Gudfinsson announced in 2009 a quota of 100 minke whales and 150 fin whales per year for the next five years (until 2014). New party leader Sigfusson did not overturn the decision, to the dismay of the public [Source: IceNews] and in fact increased the quota to 200 minke and 200 fin for 2009 only [Source: Environment News Service]. This quota is also an increase from previous years, almost double for the minke whales and the increase to 200 fin whales is a substantial increase over the seven that had been caught the previous three years. While minke whale meat is processed and eaten in Iceland, fin whale is not. On top of that, fin whales are listed as an endangered species. So where is this meat going? Much of the fin meat was packaged and sent to Japan [Source: BBC]. 16 countries have renounced Iceland’s whaling, including the US.
Other countries have shown interest in continuing whaling. One country that has recently been in the news regarding whaling is Greenland. In 2009, Denmark, on behalf of Greenland, submitted a proposal for the country to begin humpback whaling in order to allow “subsistence” hunting to meet the nutritional and cultural needs of aboriginal group. Humpbacks have not been hunted for any purpose in Greenland since 1986, but Denmark has been gaining support from many of the Northern countries. Campaigners argue that there is ample whale meat from other species, and surplus is ending up on supermarket shelves [Source: Times Online].
Despite the media attention that The Cove brought to Japan, many other countries have slipped between the cracks. There are very few arguments that support the increased whaling quota as demand is down for whale meat in almost all of these countries. It seems that for these countries, keeping the whaling in place is for political reasons and not for subsistence. The rest of the world needs to put more pressure on these countries to decrease quota to fit demand, if not an outright ban.
River Front Times