Norway opens whaling season with 999 kill quota

Every year in April, Norway's six-month whaling season takes off. This year the country's government is allowing 999 minke whales to be hunted.

Commercial whaling has been banned since 1986; despite that, Iceland and Norway continue to hold annual hunts. Japan also hunts whales but has a special permit to do so for scientific research.

Certain Native American, First Nation and Aboriginal nations are allowed to hunt whales because of tradition and for subsistence. Subsistence hunting is different from commercial hunting because the meat is only for local consumption and isn't sold for profit.

Japan and Iceland get a lot of attention for their whaling practices — both scientific and commercial — but in 2014 and 2015, Norway killed more whales than Japan and Iceland combined.

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Minke whales aren't endangered, and officials in Norway think there's over 100,000 North Atlantic minkes just along the Norwegian coast.

Stunning humpback whales in the wild
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Stunning humpback whales in the wild
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: A Humpback whale in mid lunge, feeding on Bunker off NYC's Rockaway Beach on September 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Artie Raslich/Getty Images)
SEA OF CORTEZ, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO - 2015/02/20: Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) slapping the pectoral fin on the water in the Bahia de La Paz, Sea of Cortez in Baja California, Mexico. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Humpback mother and calf.Baja Coast MexicoThe 2 whales were swimming along the Baja coast of Mexico, in the Pacific Ocean just outside Cabo
Humpback whale calf with mother shot in Vava'u Tonga in clear water. Sun is sparkling on the whales back.
Pod of humpback whales Maui, Hawaii at sunset.
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USA, Alaska, Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaengliae) sending up plumes of mist while group feeding in Chatham Strait on summer evening
(photo: Pat Hawks/Flickr)

But a documentary from Norway's state television station claimed that 90 percent of the whales Norway hunted were female, and many of them were pregnant.

Killing two generations at once could spell trouble for the species. The World Wildlife Fund also says that minke whales are also in danger of accidentally being caught in fishing nets or traps.

There are signs the demand for whale hunts are weakening in Norway. Since 2006, the annual catch totals have been far below the government's quotas. And a report from the Animal Welfare Institute suggests the market for whale meat in Norway is shrinking.

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