Bits & Pieces History
Commerical whaling began in Europe in the 11th century.
Whales that migrated near the shore of Bay of Biscay were hunted by the French and Spanish Basques.
Gradual reduction in whale stocks resulted in hunting expeditions farther out at sea.
Sailing vessels were used.
Commercial whaling remained largely in the hands of the Basques for about 300 years.
Only right whales(rich in oil and baleen) were hunted.
The high profits earned from commercial whaling attracted other Europeans ( English; Dutch; Germans; French ) to undertake commercial whaling under Basque tutelage.
By 1650, Whaling had emerged as a recognized enterprise in New England.
American Whaling began around 1712 with the exploitation of sperm whales. In the 1750s, American whaling vessels began a century of exploration that opened up all the world's whaling grounds besides those of the Antarctic.
In the 1790's, American and British whaling vessels penetrated the Pacific. Within 50 years, all sperm and right whale grounds in the Pacific region and the Indian Ocean were discovered.
Whalers found bowhead whales in the Bering Strait in 1848.
Whalers invaded the bays and lagoons of Baja California for gray whales in the 1850's.
Due to hectic hunting, gray whales were at the brink of extinction after a decade.
More than 700 whaleships hunted whales worldwide by mid-century.
Decline in commerical whaling after American Civil War and the California Gold Rush. The decline was due to : ship disasters and loss of ships to Confederate raiders; depletion of whale stocks ; discovery of substitutes - petroleum in Pennsylvania in 1859 for whale oil.
Two revolutionary technologies- invention of a cannon-fired explosive harpoon that could fasten to and kill whales (By Svend Foyn, whaling merchant, 1870, Norway) and the development of hydrogenation (By K.P.W.T Normann, German inventor, 1902), recovered the severely decling whaling industry in the late 19th century.
Hunting of rorquals, fin and blue whales(the world's largest whale) were made possible.
A new market for whale oil was opened up, as now margarine could be manufactured from whale oil through hydrogenation.
America-the dominant whaling nation in the 19th century.
South Georgia Island was a base for invading Antarctic waters in 1904. This inaugurated the most destructive period in whaling history.
In 1925, another Norwegian invention, the floating factory ship, led to whaling's greatest expansion.
There was intensive whaling in Antarctic waters - by Norway and Great Britain up to World War II and by Japan and the Soviet Union afterward.
Depletion of blue, fin and sei whales.
International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up in 1946 to protect endangered species.
In the 1950s and 60s, global commercial whaling industry reached its peak, killing in excess of 50,000 whales per annum.
In 1964, 357 catcher boats and 23 factory ships were in operation mostly in Antarctic, and there were 39 shore stations worldwide.
In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment called for a 10-year moratorium on all commerical whaling.
1979, IWC created the Indian Ocean Sanctuary, which banned all commercial whaling of whales in the Indian Ocean.
In 1982, International Whaling Commission voted overwhelming to ban all commercial whaling after 1986. This indefinite moratorium on commerical whaling has come into effect in the 1986 coastal and 1985/86 Antarctic whaling seasons.
1988, all nations stopped commercial whaling.
In 1992, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, and the Faroe Islands formed the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission as an alternative to IWC as they felt that IWC restrictions were too severe.
In 1993, Norway resumed commercial whaling of minke whales.
In 1994, the establishment of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, where an area of about 21 million square kilometres around Antarctic was declared upon a no-whaling sanctuary.