Norwegian whalers have hunted at least 570 minke whales in 2021 despite growing calls to end it.

The number of minke whales killed by Norwegian whalers has hit the highest number in the last five years, prompting criticism from environmental campaigners. 

Norwegian whalers have killed at least 570 minke whales during the 2021 season, according to the wildlife charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

503 minke whales were killed last year.

“Killing hundreds of minke whales is utterly inexcusable, especially given the essential role they play in our oceans," said Vanessa Williams-Grey, policy manager at the charity.

“Whales are our allies in the battle against climate change.”

“Coming only days after the record slaughter of dolphins off the Faroe Islands and in the midst of the climate and species extinction crises, as well as a global pandemic, it is shameful,” she added.

Because of the way they eat, defecate, migrate and dive, whales help maintain a healthy marine ecosystem which stores carbon.

Despite dwindling public appetite and strong international criticism, Norwegian whalers have continued to commercially slaughter whales.

According to a recent study conducted by Respons Analyse in September, commissioned by the Animal Welfare Institute and WDC and Noah (Norway’s largest animal protection group), eating whale meat has been losing popularity in recent years.

Just two percent of more than 1,000 respondents in the study said they eat whale meat often, down from four percent in 2019. Those under 35 are especially unlikely to eat it often.

More than half of the respondents said the sea should be closed to whaling and opened for tourism.

According to research, one out of five harpooned whales do not die instantly, and are left to slowly die. 65 percent of Norwegians see it as unacceptable. 

Furthermore, two-thirds of hunted whales are female, with nearly half of them pregnant. 

“Live whales can play an important role in Norway’s tourism economy, as Iceland and Greenland have already recognised by creating sanctuaries for whales in areas that host responsible whale-watching and other ecotourism activities," said Susan Millward, director of AWI’s marine animal programme.

“We urge the new Norwegian government to listen to its citizens, and establish similar whaling-free zones, especially in key tourist areas such as Svalbard and Finnmark,” Millward added.

Norway exports whale meat to Japan, Iceland and the Faroes.

Source: TRT World