Norwegian whalers killed the highest number of minke whales this season in five years, despite dwindling public appetite for whale meat, according to whale advocates.
The Norwegian whaling season came to an official close this week, with at least 575 whales killed and 14 vessels participating in the hunt, according to statistics provided by the Norwegian Fishermen’s Sales Organization (Rafisklaget). Last year, whalers slaughtered 503 whales.
However, the higher number of whales killed this season is unlikely to drive increased profits for the whaling industry, according to a new poll commissioned by NOAH, Norway’s largest animal protection NGO, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).
Only 2 percent of Norwegians eat whale meat often, down from 4 percent in 2019, according to the recent poll. Among women surveyed, only 1 percent eat whale meat often, while no one under 35 indicated that they eat whale meat frequently. The survey of 1,037 Norwegians, ages 18 to 87, was conducted by Respons Analyse AS earlier this month.
According to Susan Millward, director of AWI’s marine animal program:
“For an industry that has been struggling for years to build a domestic market for whale meat, these poll results are likely to be a painful blow. Despite millions of kroner spent on marketing programs over the past two decades — bankrolled, in part, by the Norwegian government — Norwegians are clearly not interested in eating whale meat.”
Vanessa Williams-Grey, policy manager at WDC, was even more blunt:
“This is nothing short of ecocide. Killing hundreds of minke whales is utterly inexcusable, especially given the essential role they play in our oceans. Whales are our allies in the battle against climate change.”