Oral question on whale hunting in Norway

Question for oral answer
to the Commission
Rule 128

Sirpa Pietikäinen, Renata Briano, Mark Demesmaeker, Catherine Bearder, Anja Hazekamp, Keith Taylor, Eleonora Evi, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) put in place a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. Nevertheless, Norway continued whaling and fully resumed commercial whaling activities in 1993, using a formal objection to the moratorium as well as reservations to CITES listings. Norway establishes its own catch limits. For the 2017 whaling season, it increased the quota of North Atlantic minke whales to 999 – up from 880 in 2016. Several NGOs have reported that Norway’s exports of whale meat have increased sharply in recent years. Some of these exports are shipped through EU ports. For example, according to the Animal Welfare Institute, in October 2016 alone 2948 kg of Norwegian whale products were exported to Japan, having transited through at least three EU ports. The transit of whale meat through EU ports is permitted, provided that shipments are accompanied by valid CITES documentation under Council Regulation (EU) No 338/97.

1. What action has the Commission taken so far to persuade Norway to halt its whale hunting and adhere to the IWC moratorium? Will the Commission use its influence at upcoming CITES and IWC meetings to urge contracting governments to adopt a common position urging Norway to put an immediate stop to all whaling activities?

2. Can the Commission provide data on the quantities of whale meat shipments transported through EU ports, their destinations, and whether they were accompanied by valid CITES documentation? What measures is the Commission taking to ensure that this documentation obligation is strictly enforced?

3. Does the Commission agree that, by allowing the transit of whale meat through its ports, the EU is facilitating trade in whale species which are protected by multiple EU laws and whose hunting contravenes the current international ban on commercial whaling? What does the Commission believe can be done to prohibit such shipments, at both EU and Member State level? In the event that an agreement is not reached with Norway, will the Commission recommend a ban on whale meat transits through EU ports, as an exceptional measure?