Report: Norway Now Kills More Whales Than Japan and Iceland Combined

While anti-whaling activists have focused on Japan and Iceland, Norway has outstripped both countries in whale hunting, according to a new report.

CHIBA, JAPAN - JUNE 25: Japanese whalers slaughter a 9.58m Baird's beaked whale at the Wada port on June 25, 2006 in Chiba, Japan. Japan and Norway, leaders of pro-whaling nations, took a step toward restoring commercial whaling in a vote at the International Whaling Commission. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***
CHIBA, JAPAN - JUNE 25: Japanese whalers slaughter a 9.58m Baird's beaked whale at the Wada port on June 25, 2006 in Chiba, Japan. Japan and Norway, leaders of pro-whaling nations, took a step toward restoring commercial whaling in a vote at the International Whaling Commission. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
CHIBA, JAPAN - JUNE 25: Japanese whalers slaughter a 9.58m Baird's beaked whale at the Wada port on June 25, 2006 in Chiba, Japan. Japan and Norway, leaders of pro-whaling nations, took a step toward restoring commercial whaling in a vote at the International Whaling Commission. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

Those hoping to put an end to commercial whaling may have found an unexpected new opponent. Norway now kills more whales each year than Japan and Iceland combined; those two countries are most often decried in anti-whaling activism. Norway is even promoting the purchase of whale products at home and abroad, according to a new report from three environmental and animal rights NGOs.

The report, co-written by members of Animal Welfare Institute, OceanCare, and ProWildlife, found that Norwegian whalers have killed almost 12,000 whales since 1993. In 2014 and 2015, Norway exported almost 400,000 pounds of whale products to Japan, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.

“We were stunned that a Norwegian whaling company is actively selling health and beauty products manufactured from whale oil,” Susan Millward, the executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute, said in a statement.

Those hoping to put an end to commercial whaling may have found an unexpected new opponent. Norway now kills more whales each year than Japan and Iceland combined; those two countries are most often decried in anti-whaling activism. Norway is even promoting the purchase of whale products at home and abroad, according to a new report from three environmental and animal rights NGOs.

The report, co-written by members of Animal Welfare Institute, OceanCare, and ProWildlife, found that Norwegian whalers have killed almost 12,000 whales since 1993. In 2014 and 2015, Norway exported almost 400,000 pounds of whale products to Japan, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.

“We were stunned that a Norwegian whaling company is actively selling health and beauty products manufactured from whale oil,” Susan Millward, the executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute, said in a statement.

The report also contests that the largest Norwegian whale exporter, Myklebust Hvlaprodukter, violated the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which prohibits the sale of whale meat in Europe. Myklebust Hvlaprodukter could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

While the International Whaling Commission has banned commercial whaling since 1986, Norway resumed hunting in 1994 in objection to the ban and Japan has used the guise of scientific research to continue hunting whales.

In 2014, Japan briefly halted its whaling when the International Court of Justice found Tokyo did not do sufficient scientific research to justify the killing of whales. Since then, Japan has relaunched its whaling program, though Norway has outstripped the Asian country in whale killings.

Norway lobbyists argue that whaling is a cultural tradition that dates back to the Vikings. However, according to the report, there is little to no market for whale blubber in Norway, which has caused the government to stockpile it. Whalers also wind up dumping blubber, meat, and bones at sea, and locals in the village of Akkarfjord have found stomachs, blubber, and intestines floating in the water.

Photo credit: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Megan Alpert is a fellow at Foreign Policy. Her previous bylines have included The Guardian, Guernica Daily, and Earth Island Journal. Twitter: @megan_alpert

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