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Cruel 6 to 25 minute deaths of whales shot with exploding grenade harpoons revealed

On the eve of the 67th meeting of the IWC (International Whaling Commission – the global body that regulates whaling), WDC can reveal that a report by Norwegian authorities has confirmed the immense cruelty of the country´s own commercial minke whale hunts.

The report, which has been submitted to the IWC and, ironically, is intended to demonstrate the improvements in hunting methods instead reveals that almost 20% of the whales shot by grenade tipped harpoons suffer between 6 and 25 minutes after being struck by harpoon containing an explosive penthrite grenade before they eventually die.

The data that was collected during a survey over the 2011 and 2012 Norwegian hunting seasons, shows that instantaneous death was not recorded for a large number of the 271 minke whales slaughtered. Indeed, the median time to death for 49 of these whales was six minutes, and one whale was recorded as wounded, then re-shot, and only died after struggling for 20-25 minutes.

 ‘Whalegrenade-99’, which is manufactured in Norway contains explosive penthrite and is fired from a cannon mounted on the prow of a whaling boat. The harpoon is intended to penetrate to about a foot into a whale and then detonate, creating sufficient energy to kill the whale either by the trauma or laceration, or by the creation of shock waves to the brain. Upon impact, spring-loaded claws are released by the harpoon and embed in the surrounding flesh when the line strains.

“With the IWC meeting about to begin in Brazil on Monday, these shocking numbers are a timely reminder of how inherently cruel commercial whaling operations are. It is incomprehensible that Norway is trying to use this report as a demonstration of progress in animal welfare”, says Astrid Fuchs, programme lead at WDC.

“At this IWC meeting, Japan and its allies want to convince the world that the time has come to lift the whaling ban and bring back commercial whaling. This report by Norway is the perfect argument as to why this should never be allowed to happen. We are calling on all conservation and animal welfare minded governments to strictly oppose Japan´s proposal and to call on Norway and Iceland to stop their whaling and abide by the international whaling ban”, continues Fuchs.

“Norway prides itself on its reputation for seeking to improve the welfare of domestic and livestock animals; it was one of the first European countries to require the stunning before slaughter of all livestock, including those killed during ritual slaughter.  However, there is an inconsistency in Norwegian animal welfare policy: Norway is failing to grant the same protection to whales that it affords other animals slaughtered for meat. Norway is failing to protect the welfare of whales“, Fuchs concludes.

Previous surveys* have revealed that 73% of Norwegians polled agreed that all mammals killed for commercial purposes in Norway should be afforded the same level of legislative protection to prevent pain and prolonged suffering. Yet, despite being widely accepted that whales are intelligent and sentient creatures it seems that they are not afforded the same rights as cattle in this regard.

The cruelty of the Norwegian, Japanese and Icelandic whaling operations made headlines over the last year when it was revealed that a large number of pregnant females are killed by the whalers. Japan´s proposal to resume commercial whale hunting on will be discussed next week at the 67th IWC meeting in Brazil. Japan is also asking to change the decision making process at the IWC to make it easier for this controversial proposal to pass. It is expected to be supported by Norway, Iceland and other pro-whaling nations. However, it will likely face fierce opposition by the large number of conservation minded governments.

WDC will be at the IWC meeting representing whales – please help us by donating

 
Link to Norwegian whaling report data  (IWC/67/WKMWI/04 Norwegian Minke Whaling 2016 and 2017)- https://portal.iwc.int/
*Survey data – AS LANDSOMFATTENDE OMNIBUSS. 1,000 participants. https://uk.whales.org/sites/default/files/animal-welfare-in-norway.pdf (survey details in the footnotes)