National Geographic : 2013 Jun
132 national geographic • June 2013 became the first nation to ban whaling in its ter- ritorial waters, declaring a ten-year moratorium in 1904. From then on, Norway’s commercial whalers sought their quarry in the wider North Atlantic and in the rich waters of the Antarctic. About the same time, the Lofoten fishing fleet began shifting from sail to engine. With their newfound mobility, some fishermen took up whaling as an additional means of putting food on the table—no small consideration later on during the Great Depression, when both cash and meat were scarce. The banner year for Lofoten’s whalers came in 1958, when 192 boats caught 4,741 minke whales. But change was already in the wind. By 1973, the year Kristiansen bought his boat, the number of whalers had dropped by nearly half. The number has continued falling ever since. The reasons are more economic and social Lured to Lofoten by the lucrative winter cod run, hundreds of fishing vessels clog Henningsvær harbor in 1951. Today a wharf hand at a fish factory on Røst (right) prepares to unload the catch from a much smaller fishing fleet. Factory trawlers and large seafood companies have put many family-owned operations out of business. SVERRE A. BøRRETzEN, NTB SCANPIX (ABOVE) With the North Atlantic minke whale population at 130,000, Norway’s catch is considered highly sustainable. It’s the whalers who are headed for extinction.