Special Action Alert - Norwegian Whaling

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Every year Norway announces that it will again open its controversial commercial whaling season (3 months starting in May). And every year it increases its self appointed quota of Minke whales that it will slaughter for no good reason.

In 1998 bad weather was blamed for its below quota kill, 624 out of 671. In 1999 Norway's national holidays have sent almost the entire Norwegian whaling fleet back to port in spite of the fact that about 250 minke whales had not been killed from another increased quota of 753.

Fearing that they will be unable to sell their catch to the processing plants as the major whale meat processing plants were closing for the holidays, the organisation responsible, Norges Raafisklag, decided to stop the hunt prematurely.

Unfortunately, the whaling stop was not complete and whalers who have facilities for processing the meat themselves, were allowed to continue with the hunt. The whaling season was scheduled to end on 1st of August.

Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993 following a six-year hiatus, despite international protests and a ban by the International Whaling Commission.

Norway's Fisheries Ministry argues that Minke whales are not endangered and that an uncontrolled population of the whales threatens valuable fish stocks. The Minister, however, does NOT argue with any scientific evidence. The relationship between fish stocks and whales need never be questioned. A fishery is a commercial industry, not a subsistence way of life. Minke whales are not participating in a commercial industry. The more apt analogy is to consider them as subsistence hunters and they have done so, throughout history, without depleting any fish population anywhere!

Should a fishery collapse or be threatened it is astoundingly naive of anyone who thinks that killing a bunch of Minke whales will elegantly solve the problem. At best it will be a short-term, quick-fix, needlessly wasteful exercise.


Please join us in calling on Norway's leaders to put an end to their illegal whaling program.

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Before the Hunt Protest Letter

(May to July of every year)

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After the Hunt Protest Letter

with letters, addresses, telephone and fax numbers.

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for details of Norways actions

Norway Retaliates

Paul Watson, President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, was seized in Amsterdam April'97 and fought extradition to Norway, where he faced charges of ramming a naval vessel during a whaling protest. Watson was previously convicted "in absentia" of sabotage of the whaling boat "the Senet" in 1994 and sentenced to 120 days in jail. Judge van der Pijl, of the Hague, ruled that Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and co-founder Greenpeace, would not have to go to Norway and released him.

Greenpeace protestors were fired upon during their 1999 protest in the North Sea with one inflatable holed by a rifle bullet. Greenpeace spokesman Lars Haraldsen alleges the rifle shot marks an escalation in the bitter contest between the hunters and the international environmental group.

"I believe this is the first time Norwegian whalers have taken a shot at us although we have been threatened before with knives, thrown into the sea and had a harpoon shot over our heads," Haraldsen told reporters.

In a letter to Greenpeace campaign leader Mats Ambrahamsson, Skipper Ole Mindor Myklebust, of the fishing trawler Kato, said this week's incident served to worsen the conflict.

"We have been experiencing Greenpeace actions ... since 1972 and we can't continue to live with it," Myklebust, 50, told the Press.

"If Greenpeace carries on acting the goat, someone is going to be killed one day," says Rune Frovik, secretary of the High North Alliance.

It's Really About Profits

And whalers don't lie! When asked about the resumption of whaling Truls Soloy, a skipper with a quota of 10 whales said:

"It's more exciting than fishing. We've achieved what we wished for and hope to resume an international trade in whale products."

When told about a quota reduction Olav Olavsen said, by radio from his whaling ship, the Nybraena, off northwestern Norway's Lofoten Islands, "This just isn't fair. We plan to shoot all the whales that were given to us, unless the government offers compensation"

During another interview Olavsen said the whalers would lose about $10,000 in profits for each whale allowed to live. "We won't be satisfied until we reach a normal, usual hunt of 1,700-1,800 whales a year," Olavsen said.

Olavsen might be right! Norway has steadily increased its quota almost every season.

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The Law - Undermined

Norway has, not only undermined the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission's total moratorium on commercial whaling, but it has also blatantly broken its own domestic ban on whale meat exports. On 6th April'96, officials foiled an attempt by Norwegians to smuggle six tons of whale meat in a container sent from Oslo to Yokohama, Japan. Here, the whale meat would have been sold for 260 kroner a kilogram. A tidy profit for a product that would soon have been rotting in a warehouse in Norway.

A new feature of this year's hunt is that each boat can only have an inspector on board for six weeks, legally limiting individual boats' hunting season to six weeks, even though the season lasts closer to three months. Last year the Norwegians killed 382 of the 425 Minke whales allowed by their government. If, at six weeks, this years quota of 580 Minke whales is not reached and a likely $10,000 loss per whale I can see a lot of observers swimming their way home.

Am I right? then again, Norwegians know that foreigners who think whaling is barbaric are ignorant, interfering or misinformed.

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