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Whaling Industry: Japan, Norway and Iceland compete to lead $31 million market

Thousands of whales are murdered each year for their blubber, meat and ambergris even though commercial whaling is banned worldwide.

Whaling is the process of hunting down whales.

Thousands of whales are murdered each year for their blubber, meat and ambergris even though commercial whaling for profits is banned by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) memorandum established in 1982.




Norway, Iceland and Japan are few of the major countries who still indulge in whaling in today’s day and time. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) more than 30,000 whales have been killed by these three nations combined since 1982.

A recent study concluded a few years ago that whaling industry is worth around $31 million and environmental activist groups spend a minimum of $25 million on anti-whaling initiatives.

‘FLOATING GOLD’

Ambergris is commonly referred to as whale vomit. It is known as the “treasure of sea” or “floating gold” because of its high value.



This is said to be a very rare substance which finds use in manufacturing medicines and perfumes. In several countries ambergris is illegal to buy, sell or trade.

JAPAN

Once World War II ended, Japan struggled to feed its people. Whale meat became a sort of staple for the Japanese. The country’s overfishing has led whales to the edge of extinction.

When the 1982 memorandum was enforced whaling was banned, but Japan recently withdrew itself from the IWC and restarted commercial whaling.

In 2020 the nation was expected to spend $55 million on commercial whaling activities and roughly another $55 million to influence other countries to support whaling activities.

So far Japan has announced the killing of 383 whales. The government has been spending huge cash in promoting whale meat since demand has shrunk over the years.

The yearly consumption fell to 5,000 tons when compared with peak demand during the 1960s which stood at 2,30,000 tons.

NORWAY

Whaling has always been popular for consumption purposes in Norway. It is estimated that 4% of Norwegians eat whale meat frequently.

Even though overall demand for whales has fallen over the years, the nation continues to hunt on a large scale. In the pandemic year, Norway was responsible for 60% of whale death around the world.




Demand for whale meat surged during the pandemic. About 500 whales were killed in 2020, however this was half the registered quota. For the current year 2021, their annual killing quota of 1,278 Minke whales was reissued.

“Upward trend in demand for whale meat will continue,” Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, Norway’s Minister of Fisheries and Seafood said.

Norway’s whaling corporations are majorly into shipping meat to Japan and Iceland.

ICELAND

Iceland killed over 1,500 whales in 2020. It is responsible for at least 3% of the total whaling that is happening globally.

The pandemic however came as a blessing for the whales of Iceland. The government announced that the nation’s whale hunting would end.



The main reasons for this decision were social distancing measures, movement restrictions and no fishing zones that were identified and enforced.

Other reasons were fall in demand for whale meat locally, declining exports and increase in demand for whale watching.

ENVIRONMENT EFFECTS

Whales play a vital role in climate restoration. Over whaling can lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide which has adverse effects on the environment.

A study conducted has said that more than 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide could be expunged every year if the whale population is brought back to levels before industrialization.

This figure is equal to about 800 hectares of woodlands.