Norway is one of the modern whaling nations, and this voyage was in pursuit of the minke whale, the smallest of the baleen species. The whales are killed via a large explosive charge mounted on the tip of a 3ft harpoon. Death is supposed to be instant, but according to this article that is far from the reality.
photo credit Mail Online via David Shukman
The whales are harvested for their fillets alone, and the rest is discarded - tossed back into the sea as waste. What's worse is that no one even wants the meat. The whalers kill more whales than are actually sold at market. The famous whale-eating nation of Japan even turned down the offer of Norway's extra meat, saying it contained too many contaminants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, which have been linked to cancer).
Whaler Bjorn Andersen argues that whale meat is good because it is free-range and natural. "You can call it 'organic.'" No, you can't actually. Currently there are no standards for labeling seafood "organic," and since wild seafood cannot be observed or their environments and diets controlled, they cannot be labeled as "organic." Oftentimes seafood will be tainted heavily with environmental pollutants like mercury and PCBs (such as Norway's offering to Japan was).
"I wonder about the real motive behind the killing. There's no single answer, but the national pride of a seafaring nation is a factor; another is the need to woo voters in fishing communities.
It's certainly not about getting meat to Norwegian tables.
I've left the ship with relief and a sense of futility: wasted effort, needless cruelty, pointless slaughter."
Full article here (via Mail Online):