Norway Whaling

UPDATE: As of June 30th, Norway has killed a total of 603 minke whales.  This is the first time since 2005 that Norway has passed the 600 mark.


Country:  Norway

Ocean: Northeast Atlantic (Norwegian territorial waters), including Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea 

Target Species and (quota):  Minke (1,286)

Whaling Season:  April - September

Whaling Company:  Whaling in Norway is conducted by individual fishermen and fishing companies, most of whom fish for other species outside of the summer whaling season.  The Norges Råfisklag (The Norwegian Fishermen’s Sales Organization) buys and sells about 80% of all minke whale meat landed in Norway.  Some larger whaling companies with their own vessels sell whale meat themselves.  

Number of Boats:  18 (down from 33 in 2001)

Total Number of Whales Killed by Norwegian Whalers Since 1986:  10,859

In Brief:  Norway, like Japan, has a long history of artisanal whaling.  However before the adoption of the exploding harpoon gun in the 1920’s, most whaling was shore-based and opportunistic.  Today, Norway continues to hunt whales in objection to the 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling, and also exports minke whale products to the Faeroe Islands, Iceland and Japan in objection to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) ban.  Norway sets its own whaling quotas, but maintains that the quotas are based on the principle of protection and sustainable harvesting of marine resources.  Norway, furthermore, argues that minke whale populations in the North Atlantic are robust and are not in danger of becoming extinct.  In response to the 1986 moratorium, Norway initially engaged in a small-scale scientific hunt.  However in 1993, Norway announced that it would resume commercial whaling under its objection.  National sales in whale meat continue to decline and while yearly quotas are set well over 1,000 whales per year, the actual take has consistently fallen far short of the quota (for example, 594 whales were killed in 2013).