Representatives of the 88 member countries of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) want to meet next Monday (October 17) in the Slovenian seaside resort of Portoroz for their annual meeting. The focus is on dealing with endangered marine mammals such as whales and dolphins, the commercial capture of which has been banned, in principle, worldwide, for 36 years. However, the protection of marine mammals is becoming more and more porous because there are a number of reservations and exceptions.
The interests of the whaling nations such as Norway and Iceland and the concerns of the whale protection countries, including Germany, are also expected to clash at this annual conference. Efforts were being made by certain countries to overturn the whaling moratorium, says biologist Sandra Altherr, who is attending the IWC conference on behalf of the nature conservation organization Pro Wildlife. "They even praise whaling as a contribution against global hunger," she adds.
Among other things, the plenary session of the IWC annual conference, which will last until October 21, will discuss a motion by several African and Caribbean countries aimed at establishing whaling as - as it is said - "a contribution to food and nutrition security for many people in the world". . Passing the motion would further weaken the whaling moratorium. However, such a vote is considered unlikely.
In the far north of Europe, Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands, which belong to Denmark, participate in whaling. For the first time since 2018, larger whales, namely fin whales, were killed on the North Atlantic island of Iceland this summer. According to the recommendations of the Icelandic Marine Research Institute, a maximum of 217 minke whales and 161 fin whales can be caught annually.
Whale conservationists criticized that some harpoons with which the marine mammals were fired did not detonate. This causes unnecessary suffering to the animals. "In fact, there is no humane way to kill a creature as large as a whale at sea," explains whale conservationist Astrid Fuchs of the animal rights organization WDC. Norway and Iceland basically argue that their activities would meet the requirement of sustainability.
Japan left the IWC in 2019. The East Asian country has since resumed commercial whale hunting. In doing so, it is limited to its territorial waters and its economic zone. Japan stopped hunting in Antarctica - officially for "scientific purposes". The country claims that commercial hunting is not endangering marine mammal populations.