A few problems with whaling include the potential extinction of some species, the lack of a humane way to hunt whales at sea, and a falling demand for whale meat and products. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission placed a ban on commercial whaling, but Japan, Iceland and Norway continue whaling because of loopholes in the ban.
The ban was put into place after it became clear that whaling was putting whale populations at risk. An unsustainable practice due to the animals' long lives and slow reproduction, whaling has reduced the number of many species to a fraction of their former levels.
It is also impossible to kill a whale humanely at sea. Whales are moving targets that are shot at from ships moving along the often turbulent ocean surface. In addition, methods used to kills whales, such as grenade harpoons, may lead to a slow, painful death for the animal.
Another issue is that the demand for products and meat from whales is falling. In many places, the demand for meat is not high enough to consume what is hunted. Because of this, whale meat stays in large, frozen stockpiles. Government subsidies help the whalers remain in business in situations where there is not enough demand for their products.