Thursday, 18 July 2013

Whale hunting: 'It is like killing an ox'

Whale hunters tend to shy away from publicity because of the controversy surrounding their profession. But the crew of the Jan Bjorn in Norway - a country whose fishermen kill around 500 minke whales a year for commercial purposes - agreed to let us join them on a hunting trip.

Boom! The shock of the cannon judders through the old boat.

It's a hit.

The minke is motionless maybe 30 yards away, the rope attached to the harpoon trailing in the water. The skipper, Jan, strains his small frame to haul in the catch.

It does not give an inch. So Fred lends his considerable bulk to the task. He turns to me with a flicker of a grin.

"Now the work begins," he says.

Fred is a paramedic by day. "Whaling is like a vacation," he told me one afternoon as we sat in the crow's nest, scanning the sea for tell-tale puffs of vapour.

The International Whaling Commissionintroduced a ban on commercial whaling in 1986

It was a beautiful day to be out in the fjords. There were no clouds to muzzle the ferocious mountains guarding the coast of Lofoten, in the far north of Norway, and no wind to ripple the water.

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