Whaling in the Faroe Islands: a cruel and unnecessary ritual or sustainable food practice?

I believe that Facebook as a social network is fantastic, particularly when it comes to raising awareness. Obviously there are negatives that seem to arise from Facebook such as the alienation from reality, the ease with which cyber bulling can occur and the ability to create a fake persona. Like a tool, it can be used in a variety of manners and like a tool it is the user who decides the manner.

Recently, instead of a steady stream of drunken friends on socials coming through my news feed, an unusual shared post cropped up. It was a petition to stop a cultural ritual that occurs on The Faroe Islands. It surprised me because it’s uncommon for my un-environmental ‘Facebook friends’ to be posting this kind of material, as it was a hard hitting article with incredibly graphic images.

Getting good media attention and American military strategy often share the same characteristic – shock and awe. This is probably why so many people were raising awareness and concern about the practices of drive fishing Long Fin Pilot Whales on these Isles. Pictures of deep red shore waters and dismembered dolphins tend not to sit well with ethical values.

However, instead of preaching what has already been preached by hundreds I want to take a more balanced approach. This will hopefully show that this activity is less black and white than people have perceived. Firstly, I’m going to dismiss some of the blatant lies that this particular article seems to give claim to. Here are some facts about the hunt that were not included or just denied entirely:

  1. Long Fin Pilot whales are NOT endangered
  2. The drive fishing kills around 800-900 a year; this is well within sustainable numbers
  3. One of the biggest reasons for this hunt is not to ‘make boys men’ but for food, as just over 2% of the land is actually considered arable. Dolphin cuisine is a major part of their culture.
  4. Lastly, although they don’t have complete independence, Faroe Island has its own local parliament and is subsidised by the Danish government. Therefore it is under the Faroe Islands local authority to decide to continue this practice, not Denmark’s.

It is illegal for them to kill whales and dolphins using harpoons as this is considered inhumane. Instead, the hunters try to cut the spinal cord of the dolphins using a knife. A precise blow will sever major arteries and kill the animal in seconds. The average time it takes for the dolphin to die is around 30 seconds. The major arteries that are cut cause the dramatic red shore line, which appear in so many of the anti-whaling groups shocking photos. Drive hunting on the Faroe Islands is centuries old, not that this condones the practice, but it’s one of the reasons why it has so much social significance to the local populace.

In conclusion, the hunts are not nearly as bad as Japan’s whaling techniques, like that of the Taiji Dolphin Massacres. The islanders do not break any international laws like Japan, nor do they hunt endangered species. It is not just a blood sport for fun, but has far more social and economic significance. It is disturbing to watch from an outside perspective, especially considering it comes from a wealthy western country, but watching any animal being killed is a disturbing sight.

Social networking sites are great at spreading news and reducing ignorance however be careful where you get your information from. Agendas will always be pushed, try to gain scope rather than blindly believing what you are told.

Of course, that includes this piece of writing.

Leave a Comment