Norway sets highest whale quota since 1986 moratoriumGLAND, Switzerland - The Norwegian whaling season opens today with the fleet of 36 boats set to hunt a 'self awarded' quota of 753 minke whales, the highest number since the moratorium on commercial whaling came into force in 1986. This takes place just one week after the Japanese fleet returned with 389 minke whales, which were killed in the Southern Ocean whale Sanctuary.
Norway must end its abuse of a loophole in the International Whaling Commission's rules and halt its annual whale hunt WWF, the conservation organization said today.
Norway resumed commercial whaling in defiance of the moratorium in 1993 and since then has killed a total of 2,238 minkes in the Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea and North Sea. Norway's whaling for minkes is a part-time occupation of fishermen and started in the 1930s. The whaling now takes place under the formal objection that Norway lodged to the International Whaling Commission's moratorium in 1982.
"Norway's whaling may be allowed by the letter of the law, but it is certainly flouting the wishes of the International Whaling Commission" said Cassandra Phillips, WWF's Coordinator for Whales. "The Commission has passed resolutions every year urging Norway to stop this whaling immediately, but they are routinely rebuffed".
Though Norway has again increased its self-allocated quota of whales, mountains of unmarketable whale blubber are piling up in the country. The 'blubber mountain' is set to rise to over 800 tonnes by the end of this season in spite of government subsidies to the traders and grants for dumping blubber. In addition, frozen whale meat from last year's catch is still available in Norwegian supermarkets. Export of whale meat and blubber to markets such as Iceland and Japan is currently forbidden, but Norway is pushing for the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) to allow international trade in whale meat.
"Every year, Norway adds over 100 whales to their self-awarded quota," said Ms. Phillips. "When is it going to end?"
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