Report of the International Whaling Commission (1995)


Historically harbour porpoises have been taken at six major catch sites in Danish waters. The most important site, in the northern Little Belt at Middelfart, was first mentioned in 1357 and was operative until 1892, and again between 1916-19 and 1941-44. The overall average annual take may have been about 1,000 animals with a known minimum total of 59,028 animals for the years 1819-92. In the 1880s, the annual catch level increased to about 2,000 of a grand total of about 3,000 animals in all Danish waters, possibly initiating the decline of the Baltic population of the harbour porpoise. Figures for average and maximum daily catches declined from the 1880s to 1916-19 and again from 1916-19 to 1941-44. The actual catch may have been sustainable for several centuries until about 1870 and the initial population in Danish waters may have been as large as 25,000.