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Guides: Fishing and whaling

Last Updated: Wednesday October 18 2006 08:55 GMT

Who's hunting whales?

Whaling boat

Whaling was once a massive industry in many parts of the world, it's almost all stopped now but some great whales are still being hunted. There are three groups of people doing this:

1. Norwegian and Icelandic commercial whalers
Norway didn't fully accept the international agreement to stop whaling. They objected and so have continued to hunt Minke whales in the North Atlantic ocean. What they are doing is not illegal but it's deeply unpopular with many people around the world.

Iceland decided to restart commercial whaling in 2006. They take nine fin whales and 30 minke whales each year. They say they aren't threatening the species, but some people say the fin whale is endangered.

2. Japanese whalers with scientific permits
In Japan the government gives people permission to hunt whales. Permits are issued to allow research into the animals and the boats take several hundred whales from the Antarctic and North Pacific. This research program has got a lot of people very angry. They say too many whales are taken and the whole thing is just an excuse to carry on whaling. Permits are issued for 50 of the endangered Sei whale, and 10 sperm whales.

3. Aboriginal subsistence whaling
Some people are allowed to hunt whales because it's considered a vital part of their culture. The International Whaling Committee allows a few aboriginal populations to hunt small numbers of whales. A group is called aboriginal if their ancestors were the earliest humans to live in a place, examples are the Inuit and Chukotka people. Subsistence hunting means you just take what you need to use yourself.

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