Norway is Killing More Whales Than It Can Use, Illegally Shipping Surplus to Japan

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This seems to be the same tired story: old, narrow-minded and backwards beliefs causing people to behave badly.
Unfortunately people invest themselves in lifestyles that can only be sustained by destruction – and then argue that they have a right to keep doing it because it is their livelihood. Commercial fishery is a prime example – take too many fish you will soon pull up empty nets.
When resources collapse the blame games begin, and Norwegian (and Japanese) officials have got it in their collective noggins that the whales are responsible for depleted fish stocks. Solution? Kill the whales, even though this is contrary to the International Whaling Commission ban on commercial whaling. Then pretend that you are doing it for science, for food, or because your ancestors did it. {Note, some baleen whales do eat fish as part of their diet}.

But apparently Norwegians can only consume part of their whale catch, so they are shipping the surplus to Japan – in their press release, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) writes:

A bill of lading obtained by AWI shows that a shipment of 4,250 kg of frozen whale products from the Norwegian company, Myklebust Trading, left Ålesund, Norway, in mid-February, 2013, and is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on April 12. Paperwork identifies the recipient as a Japanese company, Toshi International.
International commercial trade in whale products is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Norway—unlike Iceland—has not successfully exported whale meat commercially since the 1980s, although attempts have been made. Most recently, a 2008 shipment of five metric tons of minke whale meat from Myklebust Trading, was rejected by the Japanese government due to contamination concerns.
AWI Executive Director Susan Millward called on the U.S. and other governments “to act decisively to convince Japan to reject Norway’s recent shipment of whale products.”

Minke whale (by Vania Kam on Flickr)

In the U.S. waters where whales are afforded complete protection, fish stocks are coming back when human impact is moderated (U.S Fish Stocks Rebound From Depletion). The whales are in balance with the plankton and fish in the ocean – even though they consume vast quantities, the great whales in particular tend to migrate long distances, and undergo fasts during parts of the year that can go on for months at a time, giving the food webs an opportunity to rebuild.
Norway, Japan, and Iceland take turns killing the whales and shipping the meat to each other in a shell game, and still their fish stocks continue to dwindle (read the AWI report here). Those countries have an attitude that they can continue in the old ways – even though those old ways got the ocean into the situation it is today – and they just look foolish to the rest of the world.

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