Eating Whale Meat In Norway: Do Norwegians Eat Whale Meat?

Norway is one of very few countries which have declined to join the international agreement to stop all form of whaling, so there are several Norwegian whaling ships that are still operational and hunting whales.

But what is the culture for eating whale meat in Norway like, and how common is it? In this article we will be looking closer at what whale meat is like for regular Norwegians.

Most Norwegians don’t really eat a lot of whale meat, and most people have probably been served it a few times in their lives. It is not a common thing to eat, and there is virtually no demand for whale meat in regular grocery stores. In fact, the whale meat is often sold super cheap compared to other types of meat to try to get people to buy it.

Whale meat on a disposable grill
Whale meat on a disposable grill. Photo by Kent Wang / CC BY-SA 2.0.

Whale meat is legally sold in both grocery stores and in restaurants all over Norway, but as mentioned, it’s not really that common to see for sale. It is more common to see for sale in the northern part of Norway than in the south.

Whaling in Norway

Norway still have a whale fleet, and hunt minke whale. The entire fleet of 10 – 15 vessels catches around 400 to 600 minke whales each year.

As you can imagine, a lot of people are opposed to whaling, some are for it, while most people don’t seem to have strong opinions on the matter.

Only 2% of Norwegians report eating whale meat monthly or more often. It is mostly elderly Norwegians who eat whale meat, and the percentage of people who eat whale meat is declining.

Since Norwegians rarely eat whale meat, most of the meat is exported to Japan. The Norwegian government is lobbied by the fishing industry to keep whaling, and it is working. The laws and regulations that are in place to regulate whaling have been severely loosened in the last years, making it much more easy to be whaling.

This will likely lead to an increase in whaling again, since this type of fishing is considered to be very profitable for the fishermen and ship owners.

Minke whale
Minke whale. Photo published with permission.

How to eat whale meat while in Norway

You are free to try whale meat if you visit Norway, if you feel comfortable eating meat from an animal that has been hunted this way. Whale meat in Norway is sold both in regular grocery stores in the northern part of Norway and in fish shops, so places like the fish market at Bryggene in Bergen will have fresh whale meat for sale. The season for whale meat is from April until the end of September.

It’s also possible to try whale meat in most seafood restaurants if you don’t want to prepare it yourself. Again, it’s more common and less frowned upon in the northern part of Norway.

What whale meat takes like

I have never tasted whale meat even though I have lived in Norway all my life, but I have heard that it tastes kind of like a mix between venison from deer and fish. If it’s badly prepared it will have a very fishy aftertaste.

Whale meat is not really part of most Norwegian’s life or culture at all

When asking my friends and family during the research for this article, very few had actually tried eating whale meat, and for those who had, it had been served to them. No one that I talked with ever bought whale meat for themselves to eat at home with their family, and this is representative for most Norwegians as well.

There seem to be regional differences to eating whale meat, and people in Lofoten and the surrounding areas have been known to have a much higher average consumption than the rest of the country. The further north you go along the coast, the higher the consumption of whale meat it.

The same goes for age. The higher your age is, the more likely you are to eat whale meat. A recent survey found that virtually no one under the age of 30 bought and ate whale meat regularly. People living in towns and small villages far away from cities are also more likely to eat whale meat than people living in bigger towns and cities.

This gives hope to the idea that Norway might follow the rest of the world on banning whaling in the future, but the profits from exporting the meat to Japan might be too tempting to turn down for the government.

2 thoughts on “Eating Whale Meat In Norway: Do Norwegians Eat Whale Meat?”

  1. Good day. I must comment on your article. Firstly, we (norway) do not export whale products. Not to Japan or any other country. We do eat quite a lot of whale, mostly the beef. One reason for this is that mink whale is plentiful (Norway has the very most scientific and reliable documented whale research worldwide) Number 2 reason is that the whale beef is a healthy red meat, ‘en par with moose and reindeer, which both are sustainable in our country. Due to decades of strict governmental regulations; hunting. Your article is very colorized by anti hunting groups propaganda without grounding in real life. Please triple check Your ” scientific” data concerning norwegian whaling and our consume of whale beef and the esthetics of our whale hunting. Compared to some other big game hunting world wide. –education always beat war– pps, even some american tourists delight in whale menues in norwegian restaurants. Behind their huge sunglasses..


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