Minke whale meat sold as dog food in Norway

Minke whale swimming in blue water
Minke whale, photo: Joanne Weston via Canva

Norway is struggling to sell its controversially caught whale meat and has been forced to sell some of it as dog food, according to animal welfare organizations. 

Earlier this month, Norway announced it had killed 575 minke whales this year. Last year it killed 503 whales. 

“Norway’s whaling titans and government leaders continue to perpetuate the false narrative that domestic demand for whale products is increasing,” said Susan Millward of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). “In reality, the very whales that help keep the ocean healthy and fight climate change are being fed to the dogs.”

In a joint statement, AWI and two other animal welfare organizations said that the whaling company Hopen Fisk had shipped whale meat to the Norwegian tourism company Green Dog Svalbard, which offers sled dog tours.

AWI provided a link to documents it had obtained while working with NOAH, Norway’s largest animal protection organization and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). The documents show that shipment from Hopen Fisk to the Green Dog Svalbard. 

The director of Green Dog Svalbard, Martin Munck, confirmed to The Animal Reader that his sled dogs are fed whale meat products. But he said these are leftovers.

“It is not human food, it is all the bits that are leftover. The same is done with livestock [cow, sheep, pigs] leftovers,” he said, which are used in pet food. 

Hopen Fisk did not immediately respond to calls or emails asking for comment but the AWI’s statement said the company had acknowledged in a recent report by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) that it supplies whale meat for dog food. 

The NRK article reported that of the almost 533 tonnes of whale meat caught in 2020, only 164 tonnes were sold by shops. The rest, it said, ended up dumped in sea, sold to Japan or as pet food.

Another Norwegian whaling company, Myklebust Hvalprodukter, continues to sell both whale oil and raw whale meat for dogs on its website. 

In 2016, AWI said the company requested permission from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to export minced whale meat to Denmark, where it would be processed into animal food and then returned to Norway for sale.

Denmark, however, vetoed the planned shipment because international trade in Northeast Atlantic minke products for commercial purposes is prohibited in Denmark, AWI said. 

“Yes, we do sell dog food on our website, but not because of lack of demand for whale meat. On the contrary, we have experienced a growing demand for our products, both from national wholesalers and local fishmongers and restaurants,” a spokesperson for Hopen Fisk told The Animal Reader by mail.

They added that Denmark did refuse their request because “international trade for commercial purposes are prohibited in Denmark, so they were in their full right to refuse our request.”

The joint statement from AWI, NOAH and WDC said that despite the International Whaling Commission (IWC) imposing a global moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982, Norway resumed commercial whaling 11 years later and has killed more than 14,000 minke whales since then.

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