October 13, 2017: Behind NAMMCO – Egil Ole Øen
People behind NAMMCO:
A humours humanist professionalised in veterinary medicine and weaponry. Extraordinary well respected and highly regarded across “camps” – Egil Ole Øen’s undivided dedication to hunting methods continues to benefit both the hunter and the hunted!
My professional focus has been the development of immobilising equipment used for scientific purposes, improvement of ammunition/gears for hunting of large mammals and education and training of hunters. In 1980 Norwegian authorities asked me to look at possible improvements in the hunting and killing methods in the minke whale hunt, and later the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission asked me to do the same with the bowhead hunt. My doctoral degree (1995) was based on my research related to this work. For both hunts I designed and developed new and more effective weapons and hunting techniques, notably the Whale grenade-99 – the explosive harpoon grenade with later modifications utilised in the large whale hunts in Norway, Iceland and Greenland. I have also undertaken similar work in Greenland, Iceland, the Russian Federation (Chukotcka), Canada (Nunavut) and Japan.
The introduction of the Whale grenade-99, implementation of new hunting practices and training of hunters have significantly increased the instantaneous death rate and reduced survival time and losses of whales. The design and development of the automated electronic monitoring system for minke whaling, the “Blue Box” implemented in the Norwegian minke whale hunt in 2007 was my last contribution in this realm.
As a member of the Norwegian delegation to IWC (1983 -2015) and to NAMMCO (1992-2016) I have address issues of animal welfare and hunter’s safety. In my capacity as chair and member the NAMMCO Committee on Hunting Methods I am especially proud of the work that has been carried out in the many workshops and expert group meetings organised by this Committee. The development and production of the hunting manuals is one major manifestation of the good work of the Committee.
NAMMCO has given me a lot of interesting challenges, many good friends and events filled with humour and laughter. The Hunting Committee has always worked closely with hunters respecting their knowledge and traditions. However, to me the issue of hunter’s traditions is his/her right to execute the hunt and not, like some hunters seem to advocate, an argument utilizing old weapon or techniques that are no longer optimal. Today animal welfare in the execution of hunting must not be neglected. Weapons and hunting techniques have been changing since the stone ages but the tradition of hunting has persisted and will continue to persist if the hunters continuously adapt to improvements that increase the animal welfare. It is therefore my hope that NAMMCO’s Hunting Committee will continue its important work to improve the hunting of marine mammals and that qualified people are appointed to discuss and evaluate specific matters of concern when appropriate.