Norway’s controversial whaling industry suddenly has the wind in its sails, with rising demand that’s already resulted in a bigger harvest so far this season than in all of last year. That’s when the industry hit bottom.
Many whalers predicted an end to their traditional annual whale hunt as sales slumped in recent years. Only 429 whales were shot last year despite a quota of 1,272. By the end of last week, reports state broadcaster NRK, 12 boats taking part in this year’s hunt had shot 462 whales and prices for whale meat have risen.
“This year we’re seeing an increase for the first time in several years,” Øyvind Andre Haram of marketing association Norsk Hval told NRK. “I’ve never seen such interest in whale meat as this year, and it’s of a quality that’s much better than in the old days.” Many exclusive sushi restaurants have also included raw whale meat on their menus.
Some also link the boomlet to more Norwegians traveling within Norway this year, especially up to Northern Norway where whale can still regularly be found in shops, grocery stores and on restaurant menus. “Here in Lofoten, Norwegians on holiday have been to local restaurants and tasted our local specialities including whale meat, maybe for the first time,” Bjørn Andersen, skipper of the whaling boat Reinebuen, told NRK. It has shot the most whales since the season began April 1 and sales have been brisk.
International protests against whaling have declined in line with the industry’s falling revenues. That may now change if whaling picks up. Only Japan, Iceland and Norway continue to engage in whaling, in defiance of an international ban.