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Page - December 19, 2006
In 1982 Norway lodged an objection to the moratorium decision. By 1993 Norway had recommenced commercial whaling. Since then it has simply ignored the international ban despite opposition from the majority of IWC members.

Norwegian whalers flensing a minke whale.

Norway has liked to portray its whaling as small-scale and traditional but this isn't the case.

During the 2006 season the Norwegian whaling fleet caught 546 of a self-imposed quota of 1,052 minke whales, further demonstrating that its home market for whale meat is small and already saturated.

The real driving force behind Norway's whaling policy is the desire to resume the lucrative international trade in whale products.

Whale blubber sells for up to $41 dollars per 100 grams in Japan, and whale meat is worth even more. For this reason Norway has been lobbying very extensively to overturn the international trade ban on products derived from great whales agreed by CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.

Despite clear signals from the international community, in 2001 Norway exercised a reservation to the CITES agreement and announced a unilateral decision to grant export licenses for whale products.

This was meant to allow its whalers to fulfil contracts with Japan and Iceland worth almost $1 million. The deal ran into problems because the Norwegian blubber contains levels of PCB contaminants that exceed Japanese safety limits, so Japan refused to import it.

We've seen a definite escalation of effort and resources by the whalers - they are not content with the status quo (i.e. the killing of 1,000 whales each year under the "scientific" and objection loopholes) anymore than we are, but are seeking a return to whaling of the scale which so devastated whale populations in the past.

For the whales this would be the worst possible outcome, and it is one that Greenpeace will oppose.