|Saturday, August 23, 2008|
Ecological Reality Catches Up With Norwegian Whalers
For all their talk about how whales are as numerous as cockroaches and so numerous that their numbers must be kept under control, the criminal whaling fleet of Norway will end its illegal whaling season with only about 50% of it's quota.
Out of a self set quota of 1,052 whales the Norwegians have killed 533 Piked (Minke) whales.
"I don't think we will do it," said Bjoern-Hugo Bendiksen, chairman of the Norwegian Whalers' Union.
This is the same Bjoern-Hugo Bendiksen who claimed that there are over 700,000 Piked whales in the North Atlantic and who claimed that the animals were far more numerous than what conservationists claim.
"If they are so numerous, than why have they not caught them?" asked Captain Paul Watson, President and Founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. "In years past they have blamed the weather. Now they are being forced to admit that they have no idea how many whales are left."
Norway is in blatant violation of the global moratorium on commercial whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission in 1986. Japan uses the pretext of "scientific whaling" to justify their illegal activities whereas Norway simply ignores the moratorium.
Norway's whale catches have been declining in recent years. In 2004 fishermen hunted 639 animals from a total quota of 796. Last year they caught just 597, out of a quota of 1,052 - the highest quota allowed since 1993. Around 30 ships were involved in this year's hunting season.
"They never reach the quotas they set because their greed is dictating a take that the eco-system simply cannot deliver," said Captain Watson. "The whales are in trouble and the Norwegian whalers are poachers hunting a species with unsustainable numbers."
The Piked or Minke whale is considered as "threatened with extinction" according to CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which bans its international trade.
The common Minke whale is viewed as "near threatened" according to the Red List of the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the second lowest step on its "Red List", its classification of endangered species. In August, the IUCN said common Minke whales, along with other big whales, were slowly recovering from the threat of extinction thanks to the 1986 moratorium.
"What Norway is doing is criminal and immoral. The Norwegian government is allowing the poaching of a species that is listed as threatened. Yet Norway preaches conservation to the underdeveloped world in an arrogant ‘do as we say not as we do attitude'," said Captain Watson.