Norway Looks To Ensure A Maximal Take Of WhalesNorway looks to ensure a maximal take of whales
The Norwegian Marine Mammal Advisory Group will be meeting next week in Tromso to finalise the details of the 2009 minke whale hunting season. And while at first glance the proposed lower quota might look good for the whales, it is clear that Norway is aiming to ensure that more whales are killed than ever. The Fisheries Directorate, charged with developing fisheries policy and management for the Norwegian government, has proposed a substantial change in whale hunting regulations; the directorate is suggesting that individual vessel quotas be removed, and that there be “open hunting” for minke whales within the overall area quotas. In the past, Norway had applied whale quotas per vessel based on the size of the ship involved in hunting; these could now be removed with a likelihood that this will lead to a larger final kill of whales. Norway has fallen consistently short of its proposed quota in recent years (see table).
The total quota for 2009 has been set at 885 minke whales, which will be the annual base quota for the next five years (2009-2013). Of this quota, 750 whales can be taken in the Norwegian EEZ and in the Svalbard fisheries zone, while the remaining 130 animals can be killed in the more distant waters off Jan Mayen Island.
WDCS, along with other conservationists, have been concerned at Norway’s repeated changed to its whale hunting and management regulations, all of which seem designed to take steady steps towards increasing catches. In 2000, for example, Norway announced that it would use the least conservative of three options under the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) to set its national catch limits. In addition, Norwegian scientists have tried to reconfigure the Revised Management Procedure, as well as challenging input on population size and rates of change for minke whale stocks, key elements in the formulation of its national quota. Norway conducts its whaling under an objection to the IWC ban on commercial whaling.
Until this year, the local market for whale meat had worked to constrain the numbers of whales being caught, as there was simply little demand locally for whale meat. The largest whale meat processor, Ellingsen, had indicated that it was considering shutting down production, whilst another whale meat purchaser, Hopen Fisk & Sild, filed for bankruptcy in October of 2008. However, the recent export of whale meat to Japan by Norwegian two firms, owned by Jan Olavsen and Ole Mindor Myklebust raises concerns that an increased number of whales could be taken in an effort to add to profits.