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  PlanetArk 3 Sep 07
Norway's Whale Catch Up Slightly, Quota Unfilled
Story by Aasa Christine Stoltz

The Daily Telegraph 24 Aug 07
Iceland ends whaling due to lack of demand
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor, and agencies

Iceland has stopped commercial whaling after whalers discovered they cannot find domestic markets for the meat they have caught.

Iceland's fisheries minister Einar K. Guofinnsson said that it made no sense to issue new quotas if the market for whale meat was not strong enough.

He said in an interview with Reuters that he would not issue a new quota until the market conditions for whale meat improved and permission to export whale products to Japan – which Iceland has been seeking – was secured.

"The whaling industry, like any other industry, has to obey the market. If there is no profitability there is no foundation for resuming with the killing of whales.”

"There is no reason to continue commercial whaling if there is no demand for the product," he added.

Iceland announced last year it would allow up to 30 minke whales and 9 fin whales to be hunted, controversially ending a ban in place internationally since 1986.

But Iceland’s whalers have killed just seven minke whales and seven fin whales because of slack demand for whale meat and products.

Stefan Asmundsson, an officer at the ministry of fisheries, said negotiations for market access to Japan were ongoing.

"We are talking to the Japanese government but so far we have not reached a conclusion on how best to secure the health and quality of the products," he said. "Hopefully this will clear up soon as the uncertainty is not good for anybody."

Whalers had celebrated the decision to allow them to resume a traditional custom despite protests from some two dozen anti-whaling countries, including the United States.

They are now frustrated with the government's stance and say they should be allowed to keep hunting to develop the market.

Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, who leads a minke whaling association, said: "In my opinion the minister should not have any say on whether there is a market for our products or not. How are we supposed to find markets if we don't have a product?"

Robbie Marsland, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, UK, said: “This is fantastic news for whales and for Iceland. There is no humane way to kill a whale, and all of our studies have also shown there is little appetite for whale meat in Iceland or internationally.

“We welcome the minister’s comments and congratulate him for recognising the lack of market and choosing not to press ahead with the pointless killing of more whales. We hope that Iceland’s successful whale watching industry will continue to grow without the country’s image being further tarnished by whaling.”

Sara Holden of Greenpeace pointed out that Iceland still plans to hunt 6 minke whales under a loophole in the international whaling ban that permits whaling for scientific reasons.

Greenpeace is calling on the Icelandic government to also end this hunt.

She added: “Not only is there no appetite for whale meat worldwide, there is no legitimate lethal science programme that can be justified.

PlanetArk 3 Sep 07
Norway's Whale Catch Up Slightly, Quota Unfilled
Story by Aasa Christine Stoltz

NORWAY: September 3, 2007 OSLO - Norwegian whalers caught just over half their quota of 1,052 minke whales in 2007, a small rise from last year, but hunters and their opponents dispute whether regulations or dwindling demand cut back the catch.

Norway and Iceland are the only nations to allow "commercial" whale hunts despite a two-decade moratorium on whaling by the International Whaling Commission. Japan catches hundreds of minke whales but says it is for scientific purposes.

"A total of 592 whales have been caught in 2007," Harald Dahl of Norway's fishing association said. That is an increase of 47 whales from last year, when 545 whales were harpooned.

Rune Sroevik, a spokesman for the High North Alliance, which represents whalers' interests, said this year's catch had been limited by government rules imposed after the season started.

"If this had not happened, I would estimate that about 200 more whales could have been caught," Sroevik said, adding that weather had been good for this year's hunt, which ended on Friday.

Area quotas were imposed on whalers after 165 of the marine mammals were caught at the start of the season. The regulations are in line with recommendations made in the early 1990s by the 77-member International Whaling Commission (IWC), the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs said.

Norwegian media reported on Friday that a whaling ship in the Lofoten isles of northern Norway had sunk, and that police did not rule out sabotage. Instructions in Norwegian on "How to sink a whale ship" can easily be found online.


Environmental group Greenpeace, which condemns whaling, said declining demand explained why fewer whales had been caught than the quota set by the Norwegian government allowed.

"Whalers have been stopped by economic interest because there is no market for whale meat in Norway or elsewhere. Even if they could catch more ... they chose not to," said Truls Gulowsen, manager of Greenpeace Norway.

Though its whalers landed only half their quota for the second season in a row, Norway says minke whales are plentiful in the North Atlantic, unlike blue whales, which were hunted to the brink of extinction before the IWC's 1986 moratorium.

"If we are to reach the target ... we have to make sure we do not catch more than the quota in areas where availability has been quite good ... to leave some for next year," said Halvard Peter Johnasen, department director at the ministry.

Norway, which resumed commercial hunting of minke whales in 1993 despite the moratorium, angered many nations by raising its quota in 2006 to over 1,000, the highest in two decades.

The area restrictions mean extra travel time for whalers to get to waters further off the coast. Hunters did not catch a single whale of a quota of 152 around the North Atlantic island of Jan Mayen, halfway to Greenland.

Sroevik said that despite the regulations, 2007 had still proved to be a better season than 2006 for the whalers.

"Prices have increased, more volume has been caught. Weather conditions have been good compared to 2006," he said. "Last year, the weather played the whalers a trick. This year the weather and the market have played on their team, but political regulations have not," he said.

Dahl said the average whale meat price per kilo rose to 31.86 Norwegian crowns (US$5.48) from 30.11 crowns in 2006 and was likely to end up above 32 crowns.

Related articles on Dolphins, whales and other cetaceans and large fishes.
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