Export of minke whale products - risk to the species
Report no: 2019:10
Observations of minke whales over the past 20 years indicate that the population has remained relatively stable. The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) concludes that Norwegian export of minke whale does not appear to have been detrimental to the minke population. The conclusion is uncertain due to lack of essential data.
The Norwegian Environment Agency commissioned the assessment.
To predict minke whale population development is complicated by a variety of factors. Minke whales are a long-lived, have few offspring and they are difficult to observe.
- We are missing fundamental knowledge related to minke whale migration, where they spend their winter, threats and causes of death. We know very little about distributional patterns and genetics. It is highly uncertain how environmental changes in the Arctic will affect the minke whale population, says Eli K. Rueness, chair of the working group.
- Whether or not we are able to maintain the conclusion in subsequent years will depend on to what extent data gaps and related uncertainties are dealt with, she says.
VKM has reviewed available data on biology and development of the minke whale population in the waters managed for whaling by Norway. VKM has scrutinized the methods used for whale monitoring. These are the methods underlying minke whale population size estimates, which in turn are used for calculating harvest quotas.
VKM has summarized the most important threats to minke whale survival, as well as previous and current management practices.
Using the collected information, VKM assessed the possibilities of predicting future population trends for the Atlantic Sea minke whale population.
In 1982, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) decided to pause all commercial whaling (known as the moratorium on commercial whaling). Subsequently, the minke whale was also subject to the strictest level of protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). As a result, all commercial trade in minke whale products is prohibited. Norway holds a reservation against the IWC moratorium and the CITES listing of minke whale and issue an annual harvest quota.
VKMs Panel on alien organisms and trade in endangered species has assessed and approved the opinion.