Just days after the Norwegian whaling industry announced that 575 minke whales were killed this season (the most in five years), new documents reveal that whalers are struggling to sell the whale meat — and even offloading it for dog food.
In August, Hopen Fisk, a company based in the northern Lofoten region, shipped 6 metric tons (~13,000 lbs.) of whale meat to a tourism company offering sled dog tours of Svalbard, according to documents obtained by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) working with NOAH, Norway’s largest animal protection NGO and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).
The Norwegian Environment Agency approved the shipment to Green Dog Svalbard and an individual sled dog racer. It was sent via Nor Lines, a subsidiary of the Icelandic company Samskip, even though Samskip pledged in 2013 to stop transporting whale meat, according to AWI.
Susan Millward, director of AWI’s marine animal program, said:
“Norway’s whaling titans and government leaders continue to perpetuate the false narrative that domestic demand for whale products is increasing. In reality, the very whales that help keep the ocean healthy and fight climate change are being fed to the dogs.”
Hopen Fisk’s general manager acknowledged last month that the company does supply whale meat for dog food, according to a report by NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.
The article cites statistics that only one-third of the nearly 600 tons (~1.3 million lbs.) of whale meat estimated to have been produced from the 2021 hunting season was sold to stores in Norway.
Last year, 164 tons (~362,000 lbs.) of whale meat was available to purchase in Norway, compared to the 220 tons (~485,000 lbs.) sent to Japan, according to NRK.
Additionally, Norwegian whalers have admitted that dumping unused whale (meat, blubber, bone, etc.) in the sea is common practice.
Vanessa Williams-Grey, policy manager at Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), said:
“How can we value the lives of these gentle giants so cheaply when they play such a massive role in mitigating climate breakdown? We need more whales, not fewer — killing whales is not just cruel, it is stupid!”