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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Fact Sheets > 2002
Fact Sheet
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce
Washington, DC
May 15, 2002

Norwegian Commercial Whaling and International Trade

In 1982, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) passed a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling in response to declining whale populations. The moratorium took effect in 1985/86.

Norway objected to the moratorium in 1982 and legally resumed commercial whaling in 1993. The United States opposed this action and certified Norway under the U.S. Pelly Amendment. The United States did not take further action under the Pelly Amendment because Norway decided to restrict its commercial hunt in several ways, including by refraining from international trade in whale products.

In the most recent hunt in 2001, Norway harvested approximately 550 minke whales. This year the quota is 674. While supplies of whale meat are consumed domestically, the blubber is not marketable in Norway and there is a growing stockpile of this product.

Norway announced in January 2001 that it would export minke whale products to Japan. The U.S. strongly objected. Japanese concerns about levels of contaminants in the blubber have led to delays; however, trade may commence in 2002 with shipments of meat, rather than blubber.

Such trade would technically be legal under the IWC and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), since Norway and Japan have in the past issued formal "reservations" to the protective listing of minke whales under CITES.

The United States strongly opposes any whale exports by Norway. Norway's proposed action is contrary to the majority opinion of the IWC, which has passed resolutions calling on Norway to maintain its policy against the export of whale products. Exports of whale products without appropriate international controls could provide cover for illegal transactions and encourage whale hunts outside the IWC's purview.



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