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Norway Begins Annual Whale Slaughter Despite International Criticism

Inhumane whaling methods involving exploding harpoons largely unchanged for 70 years

Spring has finally arrived! That means sunny days, blooming flowers and… the brutal slaughter of thousands of whales. That's right – the Norwegian whaling season officially opened on April 1, or All Fools' Day, although this 'cultural tradition' is certainly no joke for the whales or the people who love them.

Norway is one of three nations which continue to kill whales for commercial purposes, despite ardent international opposition and a global moratorium on commercial whaling. This year, the Norwegian government set a quota of 1,286 minke whales for the hunting season, which lasts from April to August.

close photo of a whale hide and the wound inflicted by a harpoonImage courtesy The Society for the Advancement of Animal Wellbeing

The global moratorium, which has been in force since 1986, was imposed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in response to decimated populations across the globe. Each member nation, including Norway, is obliged to stop killing whales altogether. However, due to a loophole in the memorandum, Norway has been able to shirk these restrictions and has killed more than 9,500 of these peaceful and sentient beings since 1993.

Much of the opposition to whaling comes from its inherently inhumane methods. In 1946, Dr. Harry D. Lillie, who served as a physician on a whaling ship, made the following statement: "If we can imagine a horse having two or three explosive spears stuck into its stomach and being made to pull a butcher's truck through the streets of London while it pours blood in the gutter, we shall have an idea of the present method of killing."

Whaling technology has remained relatively unchanged since then. The penthrite exploding harpoon, as depicted in Lillie's graphic report, remains the weapon of choice in Norway's contemporary fleet, and it doesn't take much of an empathetic leap to imagine how unpleasant it would be to have a grenade explode within one's body. Also, a wide range of environmental factors, such as ocean movement and poor visibility, make it impossible for even the most experienced whalers to ensure a shot accurate enough to kill a whale outright. The Norwegian government's own official data shows that at least one in five whales do not die straight away and therefore suffer long and agonizing deaths, taking upwards of 20 minutes.

The Norwegian government has defended its whaling industry, citing cultural traditions and consumer demand for whale meat. However, the people of Norway are losing their appetite, as depicted in this video, which is part of a public awareness campaign that aims to lead the dwindling industry to its rightful grave.

Most of the people of Earth decided long ago that the whales ought to swim freely and peacefully in their oceanic world. Let us ensure that their suffering stops.

Please sign this petition and write the Norwegian Government.

Laura Bridgeman
Laura Bridgeman is director of Sonar, an organization that advocates for dolphin and whale personhood, and Campaign & Communications Specialist at Earth Island's International Marine Mammal Project.

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This is cruel and barbaric and needs to stop.  There is no reason for this in a modern society that doesn’t place its survival on whaling.

By David Englert on Mon, May 07, 2012 at 8:02 am


By beng on Thu, May 05, 2011 at 1:01 pm

These whaling is long overdue end, I can not imagine that we write 2011 and we still behave in this cruel manner against these magnificent animals.
Stop now on whaling, it is neither healthy for the people who eat it, or for the world’s oceans that they disappear. Let them live in peace as long as they can.

By Line Sørensen on Wed, April 06, 2011 at 11:25 pm

When are you going to wake up? The ocean has been raped by fishing industry! Almost 90% has been taken! Watch the documentary “End of the line”! It will scare you! On top of all that! With Japan throwing their nuclear waste into the ocean… not only will the marine life suffer but so will we all. STOP THIS PEOPLE! STOP THESE BRUTAL KILLING! STOP KILLING OUR OCEAN AND ALL THAT LIVES IN! I hope that all civilized people around the world will stand together! Oppose slaughtering! Oppose the rape of the sea!!!

By Jaki Song on Wed, April 06, 2011 at 2:20 pm

This is absolutey disgusting! “If we can imagine a horse having two or three explosive spears stuck into its stomach and being made to pull a butcher’s truck through the streets of London while it pours blood in the gutter, we shall have an idea of the present method of killing.” - Imagine the pain and suffering the whales must go through. What cruel heartless people

By Julia Matthews on Wed, April 06, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I didn’t know Norway was still doing this. I’m revolted. I’ll write to their government tonight.

By GDiFonzo on Tue, April 05, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Please stop whaling worldwide, these graceful giants are bound to go extinct soon if we continue.

By Sherry Martin on Tue, April 05, 2011 at 3:23 pm

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