Animal rights group: Faroe Islands should end dolphin killings


Sea Shepherd via AP

In this image released by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the carcasses of dead white-sided dolphins lie on a beach after being removed from the bloodstained water on Eysturoy Island which is part of the Faroe Islands on Sunday September 12 2021. The dolphins were part of a massacre of 1,428 white-sided dolphins that is part of a four-century-old traditional training of marine mammals in shallow water where they are killed for their meat and fat. Hunting in the North Atlantic islands is not commercial and is permitted, but environmental activists say it is cruel.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – The international animal rights group Sea Shepherd said on Wednesday it hopes pressure will build up from inside the Faroe Islands to end its traditional hunting of marine mammals in the shallow waters, where they are slaughtered for their meat and fat.

A local activist released gruesome video footage of the Sunday massacre of 1,428 white-sided dolphins on the central Faroe Islands island of Eysturoy in the North Atlantic archipelago. The number of dolphins was so large – much higher than in previous years – that it appears participants may not have been able to follow regulations to minimize mammal suffering.

“It was a complete disaster, completely unprecedented in fact, it could even be the biggest cetacean hunt in documented history anywhere in the world,” said Robert Read, campaign manager for the Sea Shepherd. Conservation Society.

Environmental activists have long argued that this practice is cruel. But this year, even Faroe Islanders who champion the four-century-old practice have spoken out, fearing this year’s massacre may attract unwanted attention.

“We have to admit that things did not go the way we would like,” said Hans Jacob Hermansen, the former president of the Faroese association behind the practices. “We will assess if something went wrong, what went wrong and why, and what can we do to prevent it in the future.

Sea Shepherd says it hopes for “much stricter restrictions” around such hunts and, if not, “at least a ban on killing Atlantic white-sided dolphins.”

Faroese hunters are accustomed to criticism from animal rights groups and reject what they see as interference in a cultural practice.

Each year, the islanders lead herds of mammals – mostly pilot whales – into shallow water, where they are stabbed to death. A blow hook is used to secure stranded whales and their spine and main artery to the brain are severed with knives, making the water in the bay red with blood. Workouts are regulated by law and meat and fat are shared on a community basis.

“Slaughtering pilot whales is not much different from slaughtering cattle or anything. It’s just that we have a slaughterhouse open,” Hermansen told The Associated Press. “Anyone can see it… but if a cow doesn’t see it either die immediately, you keep killing cattle.

White-sided dolphins and pilot whales are not endangered species.

But Read said Sunday’s massacre was “completely blind. The whole group is killed and the pregnant mothers, the calves, everything. He added that residents used “motor boats and jet skis to hunt dolphins and pilot whales for hours, they really have no chance of escaping.”

Fisheries Minister Jacob Vestergaard said everything this year has been done by the book in dolphin hunting. The Faroe Islands – 18 rocky islands located halfway between Scotland and Iceland – are semi-independent and are part of the Danish Kingdom.


David Keyton in Stockholm contributed to this report.

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