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Norway’s whale meat industry has gone to the dogs

Minke whale onboard whaling vessel in Norway

Days after the Norwegian whaling industry announced that 575 minke whales were slaughtered this season (the most in five years) shocking new documents reveal that dwindling domestic demand for the meat means it is sold for dog food or dumped into the sea.

In August, Hopen Fisk, a company based in the northern Lofoten region, shipped 6 metric tons of whale meat to a tourism company offering sled dog tours of Svalbard, according to documents obtained by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) working with ourselves and NOAH, Norway’s largest animal protection NGO.

The Norwegian Environment Agency approved the shipment to Green Dog Svalbard and an individual sled dog racer. It was sent via Nor Lines, a subsidiary of the Icelandic company Samskip, even though Samskip pledged in 2013 to stop transporting whale meat.

‘How can we value the lives of these gentle giants so cheaply when they play such a massive role in mitigating climate breakdown? said WDC’s Vanessa Williams-Grey. ‘We need more whales to help fight climate breakdown, not fewer — killing whales is not just cruel, it is stupid!’

‘Norway’s whaling titans and government leaders continue to perpetuate the false narrative that domestic demand for whale products is increasing,’ said Susan Millward, director of AWI’s marine animal programme.

Hopen Fisk’s general manager acknowledged last month that the company does supply whale meat for dog food, according to a report by NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.

The article cites statistics that only one-third of the nearly 600 tons of whale meat estimated to have been produced from the 2021 hunting season was sold to stores in Norway. Last year, 164 tons of whale meat was available to purchase in Norway, compared to the 220 tons sent to Japan, according to NRK. Additionally, Norwegian whalers have admitted that dumping unused whale (meat, blubber, bone, etc.) in the sea is common practice.

‘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,’ said Dr. Siri Martinsen, veterinarian at NOAH.

Another whaling company, Myklebust Hvalprodukter, continues to sell both whale oil and raw whale meat for dogs on its website. Until recently, another effort to bolster the industry included selling whale products to fur farms to use in animal feed.

These developments reflect recent public opinion polls which show declining consumer demand for whale meat in Norway. A September poll commissioned by AWI, NOAH and WDC found that only 2 percent of Norwegians ate whale meat often.

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