Activists Uncover Whaling Scandals in The Faroe Islands

The bloody slaughter of up to one thousand pilot whales and other dolphins takes place every year in the European Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic, situated on the same latitude as Norway between the Scottish Shetland Islands and Iceland.

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Grind Whaling on Faroe

As soon as a pod of pilot whales is sighted by fishing boats, helicopters or by ferries between the 18 islands, the message spreads like wildfire by SMS, phone and radio amongst the Islands with about 48,000 residents. Recently speedboats and jet skis have also been used for these drive hunts, even though the Faroese people still attempt to justify the cruel practice of whaling based on ‘tradition’.

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Protest action on hotel roof in front of Parliament (left: Juergen Ortmueller, President of WDSF and Andreas Morlok, President of ProWal)More than 700 whales killed,

This year alone, approximately 800 dolphins, most of them pilot whales, have fallen victim to the bloody massacre in different parts of the Islands. However in Klaksvik, which is located in the North-East of the Faroe Islands and has about 4.850 inhabitants 228 pilot whales were slaughtered in July.

The two whale activists, who pretended to be anglers, asked residents and shopkeepers about the exact nature of the slaughter at the port of Klaksvik.

It was reported that the whale hunt was executed with several boats headed from a fjord in the direction of a cove near the port. Due to construction works on the beach that made Klaksvik’s traditional whale slaughter site unavailable, five to eight whales each were herded to slaughter in a small rocky harbour about eight meters wide and 20 meters long. An old three metre long blue whale bone, amidst an idyllic picnic spot, formed the backdrop for the whales’ deaths.

The remaining whales were surrounded at the dock. In chest-deep water, fishermen and residents repeatedly beat the animals with big whale hooks on ropes (Blastrarongul). The goal was to hit the whales’ blowhole in order to then drag him into shallow water, where his carotid artery wwas cut with a specially designed pilot whale hunting knife (Grindaknivur), cutting off the blood supply to the brain before the animal bleed to death. The whales thrashed wildly around, often requiring several cutting attempts, in some cases resulting in near decapitation (see You Tube video on the hunt at Klaksvik: ).

According to the national whaling regulations of the Faroe Islands, a whale must be killed within 30 seconds of driving the hook into its blowhole. Within 24 hours of the slaughter, the free distribution of whale meat among participants and interested people must be finished, and the pier where the whales were laid out and dismembered must be disinfected.

Nevertheless, the slaughter of 228 pilot whales in Klaksvik took till late into the night and with decreasing participation; the death and agony endured by some animals lasting far beyond the prescribed time. Contrary to regulations, the carcasses remained on the pier until the next morning. Baby whales were cut from the bodies of their dead mothers, who had been connected by umbilical cord the entire night following their prolonged, painful deaths. Even new born babies were among the dead animals.

The whale meat and blubber was distributed to participants of the slaughter as well as residents. According to a young employee of the local bookstore, tourists could also choose to put their names on lists to receive whale meat. She too eats the whale meat, she admitted frankly.

It is used only the whale meat and the blubber from the eye to the anus. Most of such offal, head, skeleton and fins is contaminated with mercury, PCBs and other toxic substances and will be disposed infront of the islands in the sea and finds its way into the food chain of marine birds, fish and other marine life.

The whale slaughter in Klaksvik should not have been approved, according to critical local media and from the capital Thorshaven because of the size of the whale pot relative to the population of Klaksvik and inappropriate fishing grounds of the local police chief ever. The whale defenders learned that a breakdown of the pot was not possible because the entire group is not survivable; they would be missing the not identificable leader.

According to the Faroe government allegedly is no commercial use of whale meat. The two whale defenders from WDSF and ProWal could reveal, however, that it’s easy to acquire pilot whale meat for valuable consideration in hotels, restaurants, the fish market and from private persons. In their Hotel in Sjomansheim Klaksvik they can prepare a whale dinner for 130 Danish Kronen. The hint gave them a policeman in Klaksvik.

An elderly Klaksvik reported enthusiastically about his own hundred fold whale slaughters, and that his freezer is filled with whale meat and that’s the same in other houses.

An Employee of a furniture store at the port of Klaksvik urgent advised against fishing in the harbor area because before the whale slaughter many fuel was leaked. He would also eat whale meat, which tastes just like chicken.

Due to the significant contamination of the whale meat with mercury, PCBs and other toxins advises the Faroe government to eat whale meat only once or twice a month. Women who intend to become pregnant and children should completely renounce the consumption. The two allegedly anglers from WDSF and ProWal learned, however, that young people and children would often eat whale meat.

After their documentary about the whale slaughter in Klaksvik, they set off to the capital of the Faroe Islands, Torshavn. There they set up a banner against the whale slaughter on the Faroe Islands at the hotel roof in front of the Parliament of the Faroe government.

Other previously unpublished letters and pictures about other whaling scandals in the Faroe Islands and how the whale activists from WDSF and ProWal saved many whales from certain death in the main whaling season July and August will follow in other press reports, in weekly intervals.