The act of killing whales for different reasons, known as whaling, has a lengthy history that dates back many centuries. Due to conservation issues and the unethical treatment of these majestic marine animals, the once-profitable industry of whale oil and other goods has become a hotly debated and contentious subject. This article examines the many and varied problems associated with whaling, including its historical background, environmental effects, and current efforts to regulate and end it.


Video Credit: WATOP

For their flesh and oil, whales have long been hunted.  There were no “alternatives” in the early days of whaling; it was the sole choice. Due to our wants and avarice, the early twentieth century’s industry boom put numerous species in danger of going extinct.

 The situation has changed, though. Alternatives abound, and when whales are living, they are significantly more valuable to local economies and ocean ecosystems. An international moratorium was put into place in 1984 to put an end to all whaling, although it is being done today. Some nations have employed legal workarounds to circumvent the restrictions.

How much research can you possibly need to do when Japan has killed over 8000 whales since the embargo and more than 25,000 have been slaughtered globally?  The agreement’s voluntary nature is the other problem.  While Norway and Iceland protested the moratorium and even set their quotas, Russia and Japan reject it.  The Norwegian Parliament passed a resolution in May 2004 to significantly increase the annual amount of minkes killed.  Recently, Japan withdrew from the contract.

Also Read: Cetaceans In Captivity


Minke whales, belugas, narwhals, and pilot whales—some of the tiniest whale species—are the main targets of hunting. Gray whales, sea whales, fin whales, bowhead whales, Bride’s whales, sperm whales, and humpback whales are also occasionally killed in lesser quantities.

There are 103,000 minkes, according to recent scientific assessments, in the northeast Atlantic. As of January 2010, the IWC claims that it is “unable to provide reliable estimates at this time” on the numbers of Antarctic minke whales and that “a major review is underway by the Scientific Committee.”

Modern whaling is mostly done for food, including for people, sled dogs, pets, and farms that raise fur animals. It is also done to carve tusks, teeth, and vertebrae for ornamental purposes. Bowheads, belugas, and narwhals are all consumed for their flesh and fat (muktuk). Meat taken from minkes that are caught for commercial purposes is consumed by people or other animals, while the blubber is primarily reduced to make inexpensive industrial items like animal feed or, in Iceland, fuel for whaling ships.


Not just whales are being slaughtered, though. Every year, hundreds of dolphins are caught at Taiji, Japan, for their meat. Some dolphins are also caught alive and sold to aquariums and entertainment parks. Our section on cetaceans kept in captivity has further information on this.  This ‘celebration’ that occurs every year is abhorrently cruel. Separating the adults from the calves allows for easier killing using a metal spike put into the dolphin’s neck. The holes are then filled with wooden corks to stop the blood from dripping out.

Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands

Local communities in the Faroe Islands get together each year to hunt pilot whales and dolphins. They think that the hunt is a continuation of ancient customs and civilizations, and the International Whaling Committee has granted permission for it since it is ‘aboriginal’ whaling.  The truth is that by today’s standards, this custom is harsh, pointless, and inhumane. Additionally, they endanger their health. The Faroes’ senior medical officer gave the government advice not to eat the meat due to its high mercury and toxin content.

What year did whaling begin

Whaling has a lengthy, centuries-long history. Ancient civilizations were the first to engage in the practice of hunting and killing whales for a variety of items, including whale oil, flesh, and other things. But in the 17th and 18th centuries, industrialization and the need for whale products helped organized commercial whaling gain ground. The effectiveness and scope of whaling operations were considerably improved throughout time by technical developments like the development of the exploding harpoon and steam-powered ships.

Also Read: Habitat Destruction


The once-dominant industry of whaling has experienced significant upheaval and is now subject to more scrutiny. Positive strides have been taken in the direction of the protection of these majestic animals with the introduction of the commercial whaling ban, the growth of conservation activities, and the work of organizations like the International Whaling Commission. Let us keep in mind, while we consider the complicated history of whaling, that we can promote a future in which whales thrive and their protection is a high priority by raising awareness of the issue and taking action as a community.


Is whaling outlawed everywhere?

While commercial whaling is prohibited by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium, there are certain restrictions for subsistence whaling and scientific study.

How can we precisely count the whales that are slaughtered each year?

The illegal and undocumented whaling activity makes it difficult to estimate the yearly whale kill total. To safeguard endangered species, conservation groups and international organizations work to keep an eye on and stop these acts.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was founded at what time?

The management and protection of whales on a worldwide scale are governed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which was founded in 1946.

What other options do you have for commercial whaling?

Alternatives to commercial whaling, such as conservation activities and appropriate whale-watching methods, help to preserve whale populations and their habitats.

How has the general public’s opinion on whaling evolved throughout time?

With a rising understanding of the significance of marine conservation and the ethical treatment of whales, the public’s image of whaling has substantially changed. Conservation, education, and responsible engagement with these amazing creatures are now the main priorities.

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