New documents have revealed that whalers in Norway have been struggling to sell whale meat amid declining demand for the product. As a result, the industry has been selling off its whale meat as pet food, or dumping it into the sea.
This is according to Norway’s largest animal rights organization NOAH, as well as the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), which obtained the reports.
Declining demand for whale meat
This season, Norwegian whalers killed the highest number of minke whales in five years – slaughtering 575 of the animals. Last year, 503 whales lost their lives.
This is despite the fact that fewer Norwegians are eating whale meat, according to a new poll. NOAH, AWI, and WDC commissioned the poll, which included 1,037 Norwegians between the ages of 18 and 87.
The poll found that just two percent of Norwegians eat whale meat often, down from four percent in 2019.
Of the women surveyed, only one percent eat whale meat often. Further, no one under 35 said they eat it frequently.
Whale meat trade
Seafood producer Hopen Fisk’s general manager has admitted that the company supplies whale meat as dog food, news outlet NRK reports.
In August, Hopen Fisk shipped 6 metric tons (~13,000 lbs.) of whale meat to Green Dog Svalbard – which offers guided sled dog tours – and an individual sled dog racer.
The shipment, which was approved by the Norwegian Environment Agency, was sent via Nor Lines. This is despite the fact that its parent company, Samskip, pledged to stop transporting whale meat in 2013.
A separate whaling company, Myklebust Hvalprodukter, sells whale oil and raw whale meat for dogs on its website.
And previously, whale meat has been used to feed captive animals on Norwegian fur farms. According to AWI, meat from around 75 minke whales was delivered to Rogaland Pelsdyrfôrlaget in 2014. The company is the largest manufacturer of animal feed for the Norwegian fur industry.
‘Killing whales is not just cruel, it is stupid’
According to NRK, just one-third of the nearly 600 tons (~1.3 million lbs.) of whale meat brought in from the 2021 hunting season was sold to stores in Norway.
“Norway’s whaling titans and government leaders continue to perpetuate the false narrative that domestic demand for whale products is increasing. In reality, the very whales that help keep the ocean healthy and fight climate change are being fed to the dogs,” said Susan Millward, director of AWI’s marine animal program.
Moreover, Norwegian whalers admitted that dumping whale meat, blubber, and bones into the sea is common practice, according to the animal rights organizations.
“How can we value the lives of these gentle giants so cheaply when they play such a massive role in mitigating climate breakdown?” Vanessa Williams-Grey, policy manager at WDC, said in a statement. “We need more whales, not fewer — killing whales is not just cruel, it is stupid!”
Dr. Siri Martinsen, veterinarian at NOAH, echoed the sentiment.
“For years, the Norwegian government has tried to make whaling profitable by giving subsidies for its promotion. The fact that minke whales are ending up as dog food shows the failure of this strategy and the absurdity of the situation,” Martinsen said.
“Norwegians in general do not want to eat whale meat and I doubt that they would feel happy about whales being killed to feed dogs.”