Whaling Season Ends with a Little Less Blood in the Water

The 2023 commercial whaling seasons ended with over 800 whales killed, yet fewer than anticipated. Norwegian whalers killed 507 minke whales, falling short of the 1,000 quota. In a shrinking Norwegian fleet, two large vessels have increasingly dominated the hunt. One, which mainly hunts for the Japanese market, was responsible for 220 whale deaths. 

Despite serious financial challenges, Japan’s factory ship operation killed its full quota of 187 Bryde’s whales and 25 sei whales, but the country’s coastal whalers took only 82 of a possible 136 minke whales. 

In Iceland, a shortened season resulted in 24 fin whales being killed compared to 148 last year. Responding to serious welfare abuses documented in last year’s hunt, Iceland’s fisheries minister suspended the start of the season for more than two months. It eventually opened with new regulations in place, but welfare violations continued, prompting the Food and Veterinary Authority to temporarily suspend the permit of one of the two whaling vessels.