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20th Sep 2021

Faroe Islands to review dolphin hunt after global outrage

Danny Jones

Faroe Islands to review annual whale and dolphin hunt

News of the ‘biggest massacre’ ever sparked mass outrage

The Faroe Islands are set to review their cultural cull of dolphins and whales after news of the most animals killed ever in the tradition’s history broke last week.

Grindadráp‘ (simply referred to as ‘Grind’ in Faroese) is an annual hunt of pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises. While the slaughter has been happening for centuries, many people had only become familiar with the practice and its barbaric nature this year.

As per the Washington Post, the self-governing territory – which is semi-independent from Denmark and just 230 miles from the United Kingdom – has now “promised to review” the ancient hunt.

The Faroese Prime Minister, Bárður á Steig Nielsen, said: “We take this matter very seriously. Although these hunts are considered sustainable, we will be looking closely at the dolphin hunts, and what part they should play in Faroese society.”

The ‘Grind’ used to be essential for the indigenous communities to survive but the need for the meat, blubber and skin is no longer anywhere near as essential. The fact that many animals are killed and entirely wasted – without any of their carcass being used – is one of the many reasons that people have called for the butchery to end.

Organisations like Sea Shepherd have published numerous reports detailing the sheer numbers of animals killed each year; this year, in particular, a record 1,428 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were estimated to have been killed.

The Faroe Islands have a population of less than 50,000 and according to a survey by PETA, just 7 per cent of Faroese respondents still consumed Pilot Whale meat and blubber regularly, with almost half (47 per cent) admitting they rarely or never ate them whatsoever.

On the other hand, in a recent poll from Kringvarp Foroya – the national broadcaster of the Faroe Islands – more than 83 per cent of the population still supports the killing of pilot whales (classified as a species of dolphin) but 53 per cent are opposed to killing the white-sided dolphin. Bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises are also often killed in the hunt.

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