A huge 90% of the minke whales that are being legally hunted in Norwegian waters every year are female and pregnant, according to a new documentary that was recently aired in Norway. The documentary, titled Slaget om kvalen, meaning Battle of Agony, was shown on the public television network NRK, and displayed graphic scenes of the whales being cut open and the fetuses removed. The incident and discovery has upset many conservationists, due to the brutality of hunting pregnant females, together with the causal rejection of the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 ban displayed by Norwegian hunters, according to reports.
The head of Greenpeace Norway, Truls Gulowsen, told AFP, “Whale hunting is now even more unacceptable. On the one hand because it’s in violation of an international ban but also because … it’s indefensible from the point of view of the animal’s well-being to hunt them during an advanced stage of gestation.” Norway, together with Iceland, is one of the two countries that ignores the 1986 international memorandum on the whaling ban, highlighting a controversial issue. OceanCare, Pro Wildlife, and the Animal Welfare Institute published a report last year which revealed that Norway is in fact the top whaling country in the world, and killed more of the marine mammals than Iceland and Japan combined in 2014. Egil Ole Oen, a veterinarian who specializes in whale hunting, said, “Lots of slaughtered animals are sent to the slaughterhouse when they are pregnant.”
Dag Myklebust, captain of the whaling vessel Kato, added, “We have a professional approach and therefore we don’t think about it”, whilst also claiming that the fact that the majority of whales are pregnant is seen as “a sign of good health”. A similar situation also occurred in Japan last year, as photos emerged of 333 minke whale carcasses in one of their whaling “research” vessels, 230 of which were female and 90% of those were also found to be pregnant.
Norway has recently increased its legal hunting quota, from 880 whales in 2016 to 999 for 2017, after Oslo argued that the minke whale population is currently strong enough to support the hunting numbers, with current population numbers estimated at around one million. In addition to this, Norway’s fisheries minister recently announced that he wants to increase the quota even further, to 2,000 minke whales, in order to sell the meat to the EU. This proposition has been announced despite the fact that few people in Norway never eat whale meat.
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