In the Faroe Islands, more than 1,400 dolphins killed during a traditional hunt

ENVIRONMENT – The local government of the Faroe Islands on Tuesday, September 14 defended the killing of more than 1,400 dolphins in a single day during a traditional hunt, despite the emotion aroused by this massacre of unusual magnitude, even for the northern archipelago.

“There is no doubt that the cetacean hunt in the Faroe Islands is a dramatic sight for those unaccustomed to hunting and killing mammals. These hunts are nevertheless well organized and fully regulated ”, told a spokesperson for the Torshavn government.

Ancestral tradition in the Faroe Islands, an autonomous Danish territory lost in the North Sea, the “grind” or “grindadrap” consists, by encircling them, in cornering with boats a school of small cetaceans in a bay. They then fall into the hands of fishermen who remain ashore, who kill them with knives, as you can see in the video at the top of the article.

These are usually pilot dolphins, also called pilot whales, but on Sunday 1,423 white-sided dolphins, which are also authorized for hunting, were fished in this way in a fjord near Skala, in the center of the archipelago.

“We don’t have a tradition of hunting these mammals, there are usually a few in the hunt, but we don’t normally kill so many of them,” said a local public television reporter. KVF, Hallur av Rana. According to him, never has such an important catch been made in the archipelago.

The biggest cetacean hunt

Described as a “barbaric practice” by the environmental NGO Sea Sheperd, the “grind” is a sustainable hunting system, according to the Faroese authorities. The product of this fishery is not marketed but used for its meat. According to the US-based NGO, the slaughter of these 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins is considered the biggest whale hunt ever recorded in the world. As many pilot whales had not been hunted at the same time since 1940. According to Sea Sheperd, 1,200 dolphins had been killed.

The annual dolphin hunt, in which several hundred pilot whales are slaughtered for their meat and fat, is part of a thousand-year-old tradition in the North Atlantic archipelago. According to local estimates, there are around 100,000 pilot whales in the waters around the archipelago, which has a population of around 50,000. In 2020, some 600 cetaceans had been killed.

Photos showing more than a thousand bloodied cetaceans on the beach drew widespread criticism.

“It seems quite extreme and it took a long time to kill them all when it is usually quite fast”, added Hallur av Rana, noting that 53% of the population of the archipelago was opposed to fishing for this species but that the Faroese had no intention of giving up the grind.

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