New Report Challenges Claims By Whale & Dolphin Hunters In The Faroe Islands To Bring This Sickening Practice To An End!

Faroe Islands, Photo by Erik Christensen

In the wake of the latest Faroe Islands drive hunt last Friday that killed 42 pilot whales, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and six other leading animal welfare and marine conservation organizations released a new report presenting evidence to challenge claims that the annual drive hunts are “humane,” “sustainable,” and integral to local culture.

This latest hunt brings the total number of whales and dolphins killed in the islands to more than 900 this year — far higher than the typical annual average of 685 whales. 

The report, “Unraveling the truth: Whale killing in the Faroe Islands,” uses evidence-based arguments to take a critical look at the main justifications for the ongoing hunting of long-finned pilot whales and other small cetaceans in the Faroe Islands. The centuries-old hunt, known as the grindadráp, is widely publicized and largely condemned by the international community.

From 2010 to 2020, Faroese whalers have killed an average of 685 pilot whales and 114 dolphins each year, with the meat being distributed among the islands’ inhabitants and sometimes sold at grocery stores and restaurants. At least 846 pilot whales had been killed this year before the latest hunt, and more than 1,400 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were killed in a single day in September 2021, sparking widespread public outcry and sharp criticism from the European Union. 

When a pod of whales or school of dolphins is spotted, hunters drive them to the shore and into designated killing bays using a line of boats. Once the animals are in shallow water, they are secured using a round-ended hook driven into their blowholes, and pulled to land. There, every single whale or dolphin is killed with a knife or sharp spinal lance pushed into their neck behind their blowhole. This may paralyze the animal, but it does not necessarily mean that the whale or dolphin dies immediately, is rendered unconscious, or is insensible to pain.

“It is very difficult for us to understand why the cruel and unnecessary drive hunts of whales and dolphins in the Faroe Islands still persist,” added Fabienne McLellan, managing director of OceanCare. “In all other places with a history of such activity, apart from Japan, this inherently inhumane practice has ended. We are deeply concerned about it and hope that this new report will help dispel some of the misunderstanding that exists in the islands and elsewhere.”

“Pilot whales and other small cetaceans are protected in the European Union but massacred on its doorstep in the Faroe Islands,” said Sue Fisher, senior policy advisor of marine life and terrestrial wildlife programs at the Animal Welfare Institute. “This dissonance makes no sense, especially given the well-known adverse effects on human health associated with the consumption of pilot whale meat and blubber containing high levels of mercury and other contaminants.”

“More than 20,000 pilot whales, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, and other cetaceans have been slaughtered in the Faroe Islands since 2000,” said Sarah Dolman, senior ocean campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency UK. “This is an outdated, cruel, and wasteful practice that does not consider the welfare of the individuals or the social complexities of these cetacean societies.”

“We hope this report helps to dispel misconceptions about the hunts so the public has a comprehensive understanding of the issue to aid in finally bringing this cruel practice to an end.” said Louie Psihoyos, executive director of the Oceanic Preservation Society.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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