Report – EV1001 – Minke Whaling

Stefan Mårtensson, 991020

A brief history of minke whaling

Hunting for minke whale along the coast of Norway is an old practice. Whaling was mentioned in written sources as early as the 800s and hunting minke whales with harpoons was common in the 1200s. A very special way of hunting minke whales that does not appear to be described anywhere else in the world took place in certain places in Western Norway, where the animals were trapped in coves and killed with the aid of bacteria-infected arrows. This form of whaling went on all the way up to this century.

When the Norwegians started to use motorized fishing vessels in the 1920s and 1930s it resulted in the development of the modern form of minke whaling. Small fishing boats were fitted out with harpoon guns in the bows, and equipment for hauling whales on board and flensing them was gradually developed. The meat and blubber were stored on ice in the hold.

Licensing began as early as 1938 and the already in the 1950s saw Norwegians the importance restrictions, such as a maximum catch per vessel etc. Other regulations stipulated that the licensees had to be fishermen who owned the vessels and took part in the hunt. Annual maximum quotas were introduced in 1976.

Cold, or non-explosive harpoons were used until the early ’80s. On the initiative of the Norwegian authorities, a new type of explosive harpoon containing penthrite was developed and introduced in 1984. The cold harpoon was banned at the same time. Numerous improvements to equipment and hunting methods were introduced in the years that followed and today the killing method used on the Norwegian minke whale catch is the most controlled and best recorded method used on any wild animal in the world. (Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Environmental protection and management of natural resources

Norway has taken on a leading role in efforts to devise an international environmental policy for the future. A central element of this policy must be cooperation concerning the protection and rational management of renewable natural resources and their environment. The Norwegian Government’s decision to resume traditional minke whaling is not inconsistent with its desire to make a positive contribution to the protection of the global environment.

Controlled hunting is not the greatest danger to marine mammals today; they are threatened far more seriously by the use of drift nets, lost fishing equipment, oil pollution and habitat destruction. Since the beginning of the 1970s, industry and shipping, sewage discharge and dumping of radioactive material and other waste. Several international agreements on the protection of the marine environment have been concluded at Norway’s initiative, and the country has taken an active part in drawing up others. Examples of such agreements include the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention), the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention), and the 1983 Agreement for Cooperation in Dealing with Pollution of the North Sea by Oil and other Harmful Substances (Bonn Convention).

(Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Stefan Mårtensson 991009

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