Yet Another Group Weighs In On Lobster Pain Debate

In February, a Norwegian government report jumped into the debate about whether or not lobsters are capable of feeling pain, concluding that they are not, in fact, capable of doing so.

The Norwegian government commissioned a committee led by University of Oslo professor Wenche Farstad to prepare a 39-page report on whether or not lobsters felt pain, in which case they would be subject to revised animal welfare laws in that country. The report concluded that, “Lobsters and crabs have some capacity of learning, but it is unlikely that they can feel pain.” The report concluded that more study of crustaceans is needed to resolve the debate. The report also concluded that earthworms do not feel pain when placed on a fishhook, but that some types of insects such a honeybees might deserve special care.

Not surprisingly animal rights activists weren’t happy the rather ambiguous findings of the committee. PETA’s Karin Robertson told the Associated Press that the study was biased — not at all like PETA’s purely objective reports. According to Robertson,

This is exactly like the tobacco industry claiming that smoking doesn’t cause cancer.

Robertson told the AP that there are unbiased scientists that believe lobsters feel pain. As an example, she cited a Humane Society of the United States zoologist.


Debate simmers over just what lobsters feel when made a meal. Portland Press Herald, February 15, 2005.

Unlikely lobsters feel pain in boiling water. Associated press, February 15, 2005.

Worms on a hook don’t suffer? Reuters, February 7, 2005.

Norway Wants to Increase Minke Whale Catch

In mid-May, Norway once again began its annual minke whale hunt, setting a quota of 670 whales to be killed through the end of August. But by 2006 the quota could be almost tripled to 1,800 whales, and may eventually expand to other species of whale.

In late May the Norwegian Parliament passed a resolution calling for an increase in the quota of minke whales to 1,800, and the Norwegian fisheries minister told the BBC that his country also wanted to begin using satellite transmitters to estimate the population size of other species.

Rune Frovik, a representative of Norway’s pro-whaling High Northern Alliance, told the BBC,

The resolution does leave some room for interpretation, though it’s pretty clear what Parliament wants, and the government will have to deliver.

We think the minke quota could be up to 1,800 by 2006. It’s not clear whether the scientific whaling being suggested should be lethal or non-lethal, but I don’t think the idea of killing whales is ruled out.

The proposal appears to apply in principle to virtually any species except bowheads and blue whales, though in practice I think the government is more interested in assessing stocks of fins, humpbacks, pilot whales and several dolphins.

According to the International Whaling Commission, about 1,400 whales are killed annually between Japan, Iceland and Norway. Increasing the quota would put that number over 2,500, and it would probably rise even further if Japan and Iceland decide, as they seem increasingly likely to do, to increase the number of whales they kill.

This proposal should add even more fireworks to the IWC’s annual meeting this July.


Norway seeks tripled whale catch. Alex Kirby, BBC News, May 28, 2004.

Norway Begins Minke Whale Hunt

Norwegian whalers headed for the Barents Sea this week as Norway began its annual hunt for minke whale. Norway has set a catch limit of 670 minke whales for 2004.

Norway is the only country that openly hunts whales commercially in defiance of the International Whaling Commission’s moratorium on whale hunting, and has done so since 1993. Both Japan and Iceland also hunt small numbers of whales but claim — rather transparently — that their hunts are for scientific research purposes.

Norway claims that since the IWC’s own numbers suggests there are more than 100,000 minke whales in the North Atlantic that its hunt is necessary to keep minke numbers in line to prevent the large animals from lowering fishing stock.

Norwegian Greenpeace activist Frode Pleym, however, expressed what appears to be the IWC’s majority opinion — that it’s simply wrong to hunt whales commercially under any circumstances and regardless of their numbers. Pleym told Agence-France Presse,

We are opposed to all forms of commercial hunting.

Pleym also points out that the total value of the commercial whale hunt for Norway is very small, amount to around $11 million.

Ruen Froevik, of the pro-whaling lobby group High North Alliance, told AFP that this was besides the point,

For the rich Norwegian economy, the whale hunt is nothing. But it’s a question of principle. When there is an abundant resource, we should be allowed to exploit it. And, from a scientific point of view, whales are at the top of the food chain, eating more of the sea’s resources than the entire Norwegian fishing industry.

Norway’s commercial whale season will end on August 31.


Norway’s whale-hunting season opens in Barents Sea. Agence-France Presse, May 10, 2004.

She May Have Helped Murder Three People, But Hey — She Really Loves Her Dogs

A regional chapter of Norwegian animal rights group Dyrebeskyttelsen recently published a calendar for fund raising purposes. The calendar featured photographs of celebrities and others, including a photograph of convicted murderer Kristin Kirkemo Haukeland posting with her three dogs.

Haukeland was convicted of being an accomplice in a 1999 triple homicide that stunned Norway. Anne Orderud Paust, 47, her father Kristian Orderud, 81, and Marie Orderud, 84, were found murdered in tier family home in May 1999. All three victims had been shot at close range in one room of the house.

Anne Orderud Paust’s deceased husband, Per Paust, had been a diplomat, and Anne was an adviser to the Norwegian defense minister. Both had been subject to numerous death threats. In 1998, a bomb was found under Anne’s car, so initial speculation was that there might be some political connection.

Instead the murder turned out to be a straightforward dispute over inheritance of the family home. Haukeland aided her ex-boyfriend and two other people in murdering his mother and grandparents.

So why is Haukeland now gracing the calendar of an animal rights group? Dyrebeskyttelsen member Lene Lotvedt, who took the picture of Haukeland that graces the calendar, seems to think that Haukeland’s criminal conviction is a relatively minor matter. According to Norwegian TV station Nettavisen,

You can’t just discriminate people just because they are in jail,” Løtvedt stated.

Løtvedt said that what Kirkemo Haukeland is convicted of has nothing to do with why she was chosen as a model. She assures that the choice was made independent of her current life situation.

“The people we selected for the calendar, we selected because they love animals,” Løtvedt explained.

Apparently they want people who love animals — just not the bipedal homo sapiens kind.


Convicted triple murderess as calendar girl. Carin Pettersson, Nettavisen, January 9, 2004.

Advisor to Oslo defence minister and her parents found dead. Deutsche Press-Agentur, May 24, 1999.

Norwegian Man Acquitted in Errant Erection Case

You just can’t make this stuff up. Norwegian television station Nettavisen reports that a Norwegian college professor was recently acquitted of exposing himself to two female students. According to the court, it was simply a case of having erection at the wrong place and time.

The 40-year-old man, whose name was not given in the report, was fired from his job after the students complained to police and a district attorney decided to pursue a criminal case against the man. The man was unanimously acquitted of the crime, however. According to Nettavisen,

According to witness accounts from students, the incident took place when the lecturer got an erection while he was lying on a work-out mat lifting weights. The court bases its decision on the fact that even if one of the women claims that she saw his penis, the majority of the people in court claimed that this was not his intention.

It is like that the erected penis may have been visible between the shorts and his thigh, and the fact that the lecturer can not be held accountable for this to any particular degree was given as a reason for the judgment.

Apparently, an open and shut case.


Lecturer acquitted for erection. Carin Pettersson, Nettavisen, September 2, 2003.

Fur Ban Fails in Norway, but Mixed Poll Results on Fur's Popularity

In June, Norway’s Socialist Party failed in its efforts to push a ban on fur farming through that country’s parliament.

The proposal went down in flames with only 10 percent of MPs voting in favor of the ban. This is not surprising since a poll conducted by Norwegian polling company Sentia-Norsk Statistikk found that Norwegians supported fur farming by more than a 2-1 margin.

The poll found similar results among rural and urban areas, but found a decided gap in age that could spell long-term problems for the industry in Norway. Among people 30 and under, 53 percent supported a ban on fur farming.


Vast majority supports fur industry. Aftenposten, May 5, 2003.

Norwegian Fur Farmers’ Future Assured. Press Release, Fur Commission USA, June 6, 2003.