COMMERCIAL WHALING

"Today, the only whaling that is undertaken today, is that of watching these magnificent creatures. The focus is now on preservation and education, not hunting."
We take a short look back at a dark episode in the history of the Azores. Whaling ended in the Azores in 1984 when the last whaling factory closed – though the last whale killed was in 1987, when some old whalers from Pico took to the sea in protest.

The moratorium on commercial whaling was put forth by the International Whaling Commission in 1982, though not fully implemented until 1986. Portugal (to which the Azores belong) was not an IWC member at the time, so the islands were not bound by the moratorium.

Whaling was a major source of income for Azoreans in the nineteenth century. Whalers used the traditional, 18th century hunting methods, using hand-thrown harpoons and lances well into the 20th century Azorean whaling industry did pretty well until World War I when market needs began to change. “Sperm whale oil had been used in England and the United States primarily for the manufacturing of fine candles, but by 1910 paraffin was substituted and candles became cheaper.” Sperm whale oil was also used in cosmetics and for medicinal purposes, but very limited. As these demands decreased, whaling in the Azores also decreased.

Whaling was a major source of income for Azoreans in the nineteenth century. Whalers used the traditional, 18th century hunting methods, using hand-thrown harpoons and lances well into the 20th century. The Azorean whaling industry did pretty well until World War I when market needs began to change. “Sperm whale oil had been used in England and the United States primarily for the manufacturing of fine candles, but by 1910 paraffin was substituted and candles became cheaper.” Sperm whale oil was also used in cosmetics and for medicinal purposes, but very limited. As these demands decreased, whaling in the Azores also decreased.

Today, in more positive news, the whaling industry is all about conservation and education. Companies such as Futrismo and Picos De Aventura, both based in São Miguel organise daily whale watching trips on both catamaran's and zodiac boats.

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