The government of Norway announced on April 1st, perhaps hoping the unseemly news would be lost amid the fictitious headlines of the day, that the country's whale hunting quota would be raised to the highest level in 25 years: 1286 whales can be killed this season. The announcement has some animal protection groups scratching their heads, namely because the demand for whale meat in Norway has plummeted in recent years, so much so, in fact, that it is less expensive than beef. Still, the raised quota represents an increase of 45 percent over last year's, even overtaking Japan's lofty whale hunting allowance.Demand For Whale is Down, And the Quota is Up
According to a report from EcoAgência, folks from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), aren't quite sure why Norway would increase their self-imposed whale hunting quota to 1286 this year when last year's quota of 885 whales wasn't even close to being met by Norwegian hunters.
Clair Bass of the WSPA:
The unilateral decision by the Norwegian government to allow the greatest game in 25 years defies all logic, as well as popular opinion in this country. The market for products derived from whale meat simply does not exist and provide an absurdly large proportion will not change that.
In fact, the public support for whale products in Norway has dropped so dramatically that last year that whalers ended the hunting season early due to a lack of demand.
Playing Politics With the Lives of Whales?
Norway's new quota even edges out notorious Japanese whaler's allowance of 1280 whales. But, unlike Japan who kills whales under the pretext of 'scientific research' (a loophole in the international moratorium on whaling), Norway openly hunts for commercial purposes despite the illegality of it.
Geoffrey Lean, who writes for the Telegraph, speculates that the inexplicably raised quota may be a political gesture on the part of Norwegians, aimed simply at ousting Japan as the top whaler. But whether or not the higher allowance of whale hunting will lead to more commercial whaling, the WSPA thinks the gesture is a step in the wrong direction.
The Norwegian government needs to stop defending and justifying this cruel and unnecessary industry when their resources would be much better invested in developing tourism, whale watching, which is much more profitable, sustainable and humane for the whales.
It is estimated that each year the whale watching industry earns $ 1.25 billion and reaches 10 million people in over 90 countries.