Whaling in the Faroe Islands

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Killed pilot whales on the beach in the village Hvalba on the southernmost Faroese island Suðuroy, 11 August 2002.

Whaling in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic has been practiced since about the time of the first Norse settlements on the islands. It is regulated by Faroese authorities.[1] Around 800 long-finned pilot whales[2] and some Atlantic white-sided dolphins[3] are killed annually, mainly during the summer. The hunts, called grindadráp in Faroese, are non-commercial and are organized on a community level. Anyone can participate, but to kill the whale with the spinal lance, you need to be trained to participate. The police and Grindaformenn are allowed to remove people from the grind area.[1] The hunters first surround the pilot whales with a wide semicircle of boats. The boats then drive the pilot whales into a bay or to the bottom of a fjord. Not all bays are certified, and the slaughter will only take place on a certified beach.

Many Faroese consider the hunt an important part of their food culture and history. Animal-rights groups criticize the hunt as being cruel and unnecessary. As of the end of 13 November 2008 Høgni Debes Joensen, chief medical officer of the Faroe Islands and Pál Weihe, scientist, have recommended in a letter to the Faroese government that pilot whales should no longer be considered fit for human consumption because of the high level of mercury in the whales.[4][5] However, the Faroese government did not forbid the whaling. On 1 July 2011 the Faroese Food- and veterinary authority announced their recommendation to the Faroese people regarding the safety of eating meat and blubber from the pilot whale. Their recommendation was not as strict as the one of the chief medical officer. The new recommendation says only one dinner with whale meat and blubber per month, and then they have special recommendation for younger women, girls, pregnant women and breastfeeding women.[6] From 2002 to 2009 the PCB concentration in whale meat has fallen by 75%, DDT values in the same time period have fallen with 70% and mercury levels have also fallen.[7]

Origins[edit]

Archaeological evidence from the early Norse settlement of the Faroe Islands c. 1200 years ago, in the form of pilot whale bones found in household remains in Gøta, indicates that the pilot whale has long had a central place in the everyday life of Faroe Islanders. The meat and blubber of the pilot whale have been an important part of the islanders’ staple diet. The islanders have particularly valued blubber: both as food and for processing into oil, which they used for lighting fuel and other purposes.[which?] They also used parts of the skin of pilot whales for ropes and lines, while utilising the stomachs as floats.

Laws have regulated rights in the Faroes since medieval times. References appear in early Norwegian legal documents, while the oldest existing legal document with specific reference to the Faroes, the so-called Sheep Letter from 1298, includes rules for rights to, and shares of, both stranded whales as well as whales driven ashore.[8]

Records of drive hunts in the Faroe Islands date back to 1584.[9]

Elements of the hunt[edit]

The sighting[edit]

The pilot whale hunt has a well-developed system of communication. Reverend Lucas Debes made reference to the system, which means that it had already developed by the seventeenth century, but the statistics go back to 1584.[10] Historically the system took place as such: When a school of pilot whales had been sighted near land, messengers were sent to spread the news among the inhabitants of the island involved (the Faroe Islands have 17 inhabited islands). At the same time, a bonfire was lit at a specific location, to inform those on the neighbouring island, where the same pattern then was followed.

It is believed that the system is one of the oldest elements concerning the pilot whale hunt. This is because a rather large number of boats and people are necessary to drive and kill a school of pilot whales, depending on the number of whales. Today traditional method of communication is not used, instead the news of a sighting is relayed by phone and other modern methods of communication.

Locations[edit]

The small village of Hvalvík (in English: “Whale Bay”) on the island Streymoy is a well-known place for beaching pilot whales.

The location must be well-suited to the purpose of beaching whales. It is against the law to kill pilot whales at locations with inappropriate conditions. The seabed must gradually slope from the shore out to deep water. Given such conditions, the chances are good that the whales can be driven fully ashore or close enough to the shore that they can be killed from land. When a school of pilot whales is sighted, boats gather behind them and slowly drive them towards the chosen authorized location, usually a bay or the end of a fjord. There are 23 towns, villages or bays (Viðvík is not populated) that have the right conditions, and therefore legal authorization, for beaching whales. These are in alphabetical order: Bøur, Fámjin, Fuglafjørður, Syðrugøta, Húsavík, Hvalba (and Nes-Hvalba), Hvalvík, Hvannasund, Klaksvík, Leynar, Miðvágur, Norðagøta, Norðskáli, Sandur, Syðrugøta, Tjørnuvík, Tórshavn (in Sandagerð), Tvøroyri, Vágur, Vestmanna, Viðvík (near Hvannasund, but on the east coast of Viðoy) and Øravík.[11][12][13]

These towns and villages have featured most heavily in the statistics for whaling in the Faroes from 1584 to 2000:

From 1584 until 1641 the statistics are not complete, and in the Gabel's periods from 1642–1708 only a few statistics are available, but from 1709 until today the statics seem to be concise and reliable.[14] Grinds is plural of grind, which means a school of pilot whales.

  1. Miðvágur (Vágar) with 269 grinds (14,9%) and 46,737 whales (18,5%), in the periods 1749–1775 and 1783–1791 no whales killed there
  2. Klaksvík (Borðoy) with 233 grinds (12,9%) and 37,964 whales (15,1%), in the periods 1753–1770 and 1771–1793 no whales killed there
  3. Hvalvík (Streymoy) 193 grinds (10,7%) and 31,562 whales (12,5%), in the periods 1755–1780 and 1782–1796 no whales killed there
  4. Vágur (Suðuroy) with 155 grinds (8,6%) and 21,144 whales (8,4%), in the periods 1742–1795 and 1926–1935 no whales killed there
  5. Vestmanna (Streymoy) with 141 grinds (7,8%) and 19,695 whales (7,8%), in the periods 1732–1801 and 1820–1830 no whales killed there
  6. Hvalba (Suðuroy) with 136 grinds (7,5%) and 17,664 whales (7,0%), in the periods 1748–1792 and 1921–1931 no whales killed there
  7. Tórshavn (Streymoy) with 107 grinds (5,9%) and 13,678 whales (5,4%) in the periods 1728–1821 and 1897–1929 no whales killed there
  8. Hvannasund (Viðoy) with 83 grinds (4,6%) and 8,441 whales (3,3%) in the periods 1742–1802 and 1859–1878 no whales killed there
  9. Trongisvágur (Suðuroy) with 54 grinds (3,0%) and 6,511 whales (2,6%) in the periods 1733–1803 and 1875–1898 no whales killed there
  10. Funningsfjørður (Eysturoy) with 48 grinds (2,7%) and 4,883 whales (1,9%) in the periods 1735–1802 and 1899–1925 no whales killed there[15]

Regulations[edit]

At the beginning of the twentieth century, proposals to begin regulation of the whale hunt began to reach the Faroese legislature. On 4 June 1907, the Danish Governor (in Faroese: amtmaður), as well as the sysselmann (sheriff), sent the first draft for whaling regulations to the Office of the Exchequer in Copenhagen. In the following years, a number of drafts were debated, and finally in 1932 the first Faroese whaling regulations were introduced. Since then, every detail of the pilot whale hunt has been carefully defined in the regulations.[16] This means that the institution of the pilot whale hunt, which had previously largely been based on tradition, became an integrated part of society’s legal structure. In the regulations, one has institutionalized old customs and added new ordinances when old customs have proved insufficient or inappropriate.[17]

Districts[edit]

Since 1832, the Faroe Islands have been divided into several whaling districts, although there is reason to believe that these districts already existed in some form prior to this date. These whaling districts are the basis for the distribution of the meat and blubber of the pilot whales caught. The catch is distributed in such a way that all the residents of the whaling district are given the same amount of the catch, regardless of whether they took part in the hunt or not.

Supervision[edit]

Before the enactment of home-rule in 1948, the Danish governor had the highest responsibility of supervising a pilot whale hunt. Today, supervision is the responsibility of the Faroese government. The government is charged with ensuring that the pilot whaling regulations are respected and otherwise answer for preparations. In practice, this means that it is the local legislative representative who holds the highest command in a pilot whale hunt. It is his responsibility to both supervise the hunt and to distribute the catch.

The hunt[edit]

Pilot whale hunt in Vágur, Suðuroy in August 2012
Blásturongul with rope.
In accordance with the regulations, men gather on the shore to kill the beached whales, here in the town Vágur on Suðuroy, 28 June 2004.

Whale hunting equipment is legally restricted to hooks (blásturkrókur), ropes, mønustingari (a specially designed Faroese knife to cut of the whales spine, so it dies shortly after) and assessing-poles for measurement. Faroese boats normally don't carry this equipment with them. When the men hear the news about the grindaboð (that a whale hub has been discovered near land), fishermen who are at sea in their boats, sail towards the whales and wait for other boats to arrive. In older times the boats which were used to the whale hunt were the traditional wooden rowing boats. In modern times they use boats with engines, these boats can be wooden boats or other types of boats like fiberglass boats. A pilot whale boat simply describes the temporary condition of a small boat during a hunt, which is otherwise used for line fishery or leisure purposes. In the village Vágur however they have preserved 10 of the old whaling boats, which are wooden rowing boats, the oldest one dates back to 1873,[18] these boats are still in use but mostly for pleasure trips.[19][20] Most of the boats used in whale hunts are small modern fishing boats. In Vágur equipment like ropes and hooks (for the whales blowhole) are kept in boat houses and only taken out from their place when there is grindaboð in the island of Suðuroy.

Whale drives take place only when a school of whales is sighted close to land, and when sea and weather conditions make this possible. The whaling regulations specify how the school of whales is to be driven ashore. The drive itself works by surrounding the pilot whales with a wide semicircle of boats. On the whaling-foreman’s signal, stones attached to lines are thrown into the water behind the pilot whales, thus the boats drive the whales towards an authorised beach or fjord, where the whales then beach themselves. It is not permitted to take whales on the ocean-side of the rope. A pilot whale drive is always under supervision of local authorities.

The pilot whales that are not beached were earlier often stabbed in the blubber with a sharp hook, called a sóknarongul, (a kind of gaff) and then pulled ashore. But, after allegations of animal cruelty, the Faroese whalers started using blunt gaffs (in Faroese: blásturongul) to pull the whales ashore by their blowholes. As of 2012, the ordinary gaff is used only to pull killed whales ashore. The blunt gaff became generally accepted since its invention in 1993, and it is not only more effective, but it is also more humane by comparison to the other gaff. However, anti-whaling groups, such as Greenpeace and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), claim that the partial blocking and irritation of the airway hurts and panics the animal.

Furthermore, in 1985, the Faroe Islands outlawed the use of spears and harpoons in the hunt, as these weapons are considered to be unnecessarily cruel to animals.

Once ashore, the pilot whale is killed by cutting the dorsal area through to the spinal cord with a special whaling knife, a mønustingari (spinal cord cutter), and after cutting it, the whaler must make sure that the whale is dead, before he cuts the neck open so that as much blod as possible can run from the whale in order to get the best quality of meat. The neck is cut with a grindaknívur.[21] The mønustingari is a new invention which has been legal to use to kill pilot whales with since 2011.[22] Given the circumstances during a pilot whale hunt, the whaling knife is considered the safest and most effective equipment with which to kill the whales. The length of time it takes for a whale to die varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, with the average time being 30 seconds.[23] Other observers complained that it took up to fifteen minutes for certain whales to die, they noted several cuts were sometimes made before a successful death and that some whales were not even killed properly until a vet finishes the job.[24][25]

Other species of cetacean that may be taken[edit]

According to Faroese legislation, it is also permitted to hunt certain species of small cetaceans other than pilot whales.[26] These include: bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), white-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris), Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus), and harbour porpoise (Phocaena phocaena).

The hunting of these dolphin species, with the exception of harbour porpoises, is carried out in the same way as the pilot whale hunt.

Harbour porpoises are killed with shotguns, and numbers taken must be reported to the relevant district sheriff. According to statistics, the number of harbour porpoises shot on an annual basis is very low—from 0 to 10 animals.

Commercial whaling for larger whale species (fin and minke whales) in the Faroes Islands has not been carried out since 1984. The last whaling station was the one Við Áir near Hvalvík, which closed down in 1984. The Faroese government (Mentamálaráðið) and the Sunda Municipality are restoring it together with Søvn Landsins, they will make it into a maritime museum.[27]

Fatal accident in Sandvík in 1915[edit]

Memorial in memory of The Fatal Grind of Sandvík 1915

On Saturday 13 February 1915 there was a whale hunt in Sandvík, which is the northernmost village of Suðuroy. During the drive into the bay of Sandvík an accident occurred, two boats capsized because of rough sea with 15 men on board. 14 of these young men lost their lives in the accident, only one was rescued. The men came from the villages Sandvík and Hvalba. The accident is one of the worse in the maritime history of the Faroe Islands, it has been referred to a Skaðagrindin í Sandvík in Faroese (The Fatal Grind of Sandvík). The only man who survived the accident, called Petur í Køkini, wrote a letter on the following day in which he described the accident and his loss, he lost his son and his brother. The letter was written in Danish language, because the Faroese people were not allowed to get educated in their mother tongue, Faroese, at that time. The letter starts with these sentences:

"It is with great sorrow, that I must write you these lines. Yesterday we have lost our beloved son (Niels Peter Joensen) during a whaling in Sandvík. The sea was so rough that two boats capsized, 9 men on board one and 6 in the other. I was myself on board one of these boats and was the only one who got rescued. Several times I got loose of the boat and was deep down in the sea, but I kept grabbing the boat again. After a long time a boat came to rescue me. You must not think, that I was just glad to be rescued. It was just because of Mariane (his wife) and the daughters. My brother Hans also died. All together 14 young men and boys like Peter. It is an unbelievable grief, both out where he used to work, and not at least here at home."[28]

Impression[edit]

The sea having turned blood red.
Two stranded northern bottlenose whales in the bay of Nes in Hvalba on Suðuroy.

During the cut of a pilot whale’s spine, its main arteries also get cut. Because of this, the surrounding sea tends to turn a bloody red. This vivid imagery is often used by anti-whaling groups in their campaigns against the hunt. These images of a blood-red sea can have a shocking effect on bystanders.

Since harpoons, spears, and firearms are prohibited, the whalers must be on the shoreline of the water and kill each individual whale.

Ólavur Sjúrðaberg, the chairman of the Faroese Pilot Whalers’ Association, describes the pilot whale hunt in such a way: “I’m sure that no one who kills his own animals for food is unmoved by what he does. You want it done as quickly and with as little suffering as possible for the animal.”[29]

The pilot whale as a source of food[edit]

The largest part of traditional Faroese food consists of meat. Because of the rugged, rocky Faroese terrain, grain and vegetables do not grow very well, as only about 2% of the 1,393 km2 is arable land and none is set aside for permanent crops.[30] During the winter months, the Faroe Islanders’ only option was to eat mostly salted or dried food (this includes sheep meat, pilot whale meat, seabirds, and fish). This means that over the centuries, the pilot whale has been an important source of nutrition for the isolated population on the North Atlantic archipelago.

The pilot whale meat and blubber are stored, prepared, and eaten in Faroese households. This also means that whale meat is not available at supermarkets. Although the Faroe Islands’ main export is fish, this does not include pilot whale meat or blubber. An annual catch of 956 pilot whales[31] (1990–1999) is roughly equivalent to 500 tonnes of meat and blubber, some 30% of all meat produced locally in the Faroe Islands.

Whale meat and blubber as source of carnitine, vitamins and minerals[edit]

In 1995 the first Faroese patient with Systemic primary carnitine deficiency was diagnosed.[32] Later other patients were found, but nothing was done to found out, if the illness was common or if something should be done about it. Not until 2008 when a young woman died just a few days after being diagnosed with SPCD (in the Faroes the illness is named CTD), actions were finally taken by the Faroese health authorities. The young woman had not been treated, and this caused a big discussion about how to prevent this from happening again. Shortly after all Faroese people in the Faroes were invited to take a blood sample for a small cost and get it screened for SPCD. Several persons with the illness were found and got treatment instantly. It is now known, that several Faroese people have died a sudden death at a young age because of this illness. Around one third of the Faroese population has been screened for SPCD (with a blood sample), and scientists think that at least one of every 1000 inhabitants of the Faroes have the illness. But even if several young people or children have died from SPCD, there have also been found elderly people who have survived the illness without treatment. The treatment is to give the patients carnitine supplement. Scientists have found that there is much carnitine in the whale's meat and the German physician and scientist Ulrike Steurwald who has done research in the Faroe Islands for several years has the theory that the fact that Faroese people have eaten large amount of red meat like sheep meet and whale meat which contain high amounts of carnitine might have rescued many Faroese people during the years from a sudden death at a young age.[33][34] The whale meat contains nutritions like carnitine, taurine and selenium. The concentration of Selenium in raw fresh cod fillet and raw fresh pilot whale meat is 28 µg/100g and 185 µg/100g.[35] The whale's blubber is rich in vitamin-D which around half of the elderly population and many amongst the younger generations in the Faroe Islands are lacking. Reasons for this can be changes from traditional food to pizza's, chicken etc.[36] The fat of mammal sea animals provide excellent sources of vitamins A, D and E.[37]

Food preparation[edit]

Tvøst og spik. Black meat of the pilot whale and blubber (middle), together with dried fish (left) and potatoes.

Whale meat and blubber are Faroese delicacies. Well into the 20th century, meat and blubber from the pilot whale was used to feed people for long periods of time. Everybody got a share, as is the custom to this day.[38] The meat and blubber can be stored and prepared in a variety of ways, such as Tvøst og spik. When fresh, the meat is boiled or served as steaks. A pilot whale steak is called in Faroese: grindabúffur. Whale meat with blubber and potatoes in their skins are put in to a saucepan with salt and then boiled for an hour. Slivers of the blubber are also a popular accompaniment to dried fish.

The traditional preservation is by salting or outdoor wind-drying. Today the meat and blubber are often kept in the freezer. The traditional way of storage is still practiced, particularly in the villages.

Tourists in the Faroe Islands who would like to try pilot whale meat and other Faroese food specialties can do so at different cultural events, which are mostly organized in the summer. Tourists who consider consuming pilot whale or cetacean meat on a visit to the Faroe Islands should note the warnings from the Faroese Chief Medical Officers about the high mercury content.[39]

Cultural importance[edit]

Pilot whale hunt is an integral part of Faroese social culture. As the attenders of a grindadráp usually are men, women do not actively take part in it, but are bystanders or onlookers. This is part of the traditional division of labor concerning grindadráp that is centuries old, and has not changed over time.

In Faroese literature and art, grindadráp is an important motif. The grindadráp paintings by Sámal Joensen-Mikines rank internationally as some of his most important. They are part of a permanent exhibition in the Faroese art museum in the capital Tórshavn. The Danish governor (amtmand) of the Faroe Islands, Christian Pløyen (1803–1867), wrote the Pilot Whaling ballad, a Faroese ballad written in Danish entitled “Grindavísan”. It was written during his term of office (1830–1847) and was printed in Copenhagen in 1835.

The Danish chorus line is Raske drenge, grind at dræbe det er vor lyst. In English: Tough boys, to slay the grind that’s our desire.

These old verses are still sung by the Faroese today along with the traditional Faroese chain dance.[40] In recent years the grindavísan has been sung in a more modern way by the Faroese Viking Metal band Týr, the melody is the same and the verses are the same, only much shorter version of the ballad and with instruments.[41]

Catches[edit]

Whaling in 1854 in Vestmanna

Records of the drive exist in part since 1584, and continuously from 1709—the longest period of time for statistics existing for any wild animal harvest in the world.[42]

The catch is divided into shares known in Faroese as a skinn, which is an age-old measurement value that derives from agricultural practices. One skinn equals 38 kg of whale meat plus 34 kg of blubber: in total 72 kg.

Period Drives Whales Skinn
1709–1950 1,195 178,259 1,360,160 |
Period Drives Whales Skinn
1951–1960 122 18,772 99,102
1961–1970 130 15,784 79,588
1971–1980 85 11,311 69,026
1981–1990 176 18,806 108,714
1991–2000 101 9,212 66,284 |
Period Drives Whales Skinn
2001 11 918 7,447
2002 10 626 4,263
2003 5 503 3,968
2004 9 1,010 8,276
2005 6 302 2,194
2006 11 856 6,615
2007 10 633 5,522
2008 0 0 0
2009 3 310 2974
2010 16 1107 8008
2011 10 726 4683
2012 12 713 4962
2013 11 1104 8302

The Faroe Island Statistical office published the official numbers for the 2009 drive hunt. The statistics show that a total of 310 pilot whales, 174 whitebeaked dolphins, two bottlenose whales and one bottlenose dolphin were killed in three separate grinds.[43]

In 2013, a total of 1524 cetaceans were killed: 1104 pilot whales and 430 white-sided dolphins.[44]

  • Long-term annual average catch 1709–1999: 850
  • Annual average catch 1900–1999: 1,225
  • Annual average catch 1980–1999: 1,511
  • Annual average catch 1990–1999: 956

Population[edit]

Atlantic White-sided Dolphins on a concrete-floored dock in Hvalba, 26 August 2006

Surveys of the size of the Northeast Atlantic pilot whale population have been conducted by the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission. These surveys converged on a figure of 778,000 pilot whales.[45] The pilot whale is not registered as an endangered species.

In its Red List of Threatened Species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists both the long-finned and short-finned pilot whales with “Data Deficient” status, according to its 2008 assessment. In a previous assessment in 1996, the organization listed the species in the “Lower Risk/least concern” category. The IUCN also says that with the NAMMCO-estimated population size of 778,000 in the eastern North Atlantic, with approximately 100,000 around the Faroes, Faroese catches of 850 per year are probably sustainable.[46]

According to the American Cetacean Society, pilot whales are not considered endangered. The society cites “There are likely to be almost a million long-finned pilot whales and at least 200,000 short-finned pilot whales worldwide”.[47]

The population figure of 778,000 is accepted by the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee. Those in favour of whaling, such as the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission in their 1997 and 1999 reports on the hunt, claim that this is a conservative estimate,[45] whilst others opposed to the hunt, such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, cite data that the figure is overestimated.[citation needed] This means that the average kill from 1990–1999 of 956 animals each year represents about 0.1% of the population, which is considered sustainable by the IUCN and ACS.

Controversy[edit]

Faroese and Danish policemen were in Hvalba in August 2014 to prevent Sea Shepherd to enter the beach during a planned whaling, which finally did not take place.
Normally a whaling beach is not closed during a grindadráp, but in 2014 the Faroese police found it necessary because of the presence of Sea Shepherd. The pilot whales disappeared though, no whale was killed on this day.

Faroese laws and the laws of the international communities allow for the Faroese pilot whale drive,[48] while several international special interest groups object to this practice. Proponents of Faroese pilot whaling defend it with several arguments. The drive is described as essential to the Faroese culture and provides high quality food to substitute for the islands’ inability to sustain land based agriculture and that the number of whales taken are not harmful to the general pilot whale population. The pilot whale harvest does not exist as a commercial harvest and is proven as only a communal food distribution among local households. However, whale meat can be sold in restaurants. The harvest of North Atlantic dolphin populations, at the rate of 0.1% per year, is sustainable for the species[citation needed]. In addition, proponents point to the Faroese law which prohibits causing an animal unnecessary harm.

Opponents of the whaling often cite the methods, which involve knives, hooks, and the chasing of whales by powerboats, as being inherently cruel to social animals capable of communication within their species. Opponents further note that most whale drives do not take “a few minutes” as often cited by Faroese government officials. Rather, the kills can sometimes take hours, with the herding process itself lasting more than an hour and resulting in injured whales.

Photographs in the media of the pilot whale drive display a red sea soaked in blood with the bodies of dead pilot whales. These images cause outrage worldwide. Proponents of the whale drive will defend these images saying that blood is a natural consequence of any animal slaughter and that those who have been outraged have been alienated from the process and basic consequences of animal food production.

Proponents of the whale drive further argue that the pilot whale lives its whole life naturally in its natural environment, the Atlantic Ocean, and then is harvested in few minutes, with an average time of death of 30 seconds, in contrast to the fate of conventional livestock. Causing an animal unnecessary or excessive pain and discomfort is also prohibited by the Faroese law.

Opponents argue that the whale drive is not only cruel, but in their point of view it is completely unnecessary. The chief medical officer of the Faroes and scientist Pál Weihe warned against consumption of pilot whale meat, since it has been shown to contain toxic levels of mercury, PCBs, and environmental poisons.[49] They announced in a letter to the prime minister and two ministers in late 2008 that pilot whale meat and blubber contains too much mercury, and advice people to stop eating the meat and blubber of the pilot whale, due to PCBs, and DDT derivatives they thought that it was not safe for human consumption.[5][50] However, they Faroese government did not forbid the whaling. In 2011 the Faroese Food- and veterinary authority announced their recommendation to the Faroese people regarding the safety of eating meat and blubber from the pilot whale.[6] They recommend that because of the pollution of the whale:

  • Adults should only eat one dinner with pilot whale meat and blubber per month.
  • Special advice for women and girls:
    • Girls and women should not eat blubber at all until they have finished given birth to children.
    • Women who plan to get pregnant within 3 months, pregnant women and women who breastfeed should probably not eat whale meat at all.
  • The kidneys and liver of the pilot whales should not be eaten.[51]

During the recent history of the grindadráp, the tools of the catch have modernized. Cellular telephones and radio allow the islands to be alerted to a sighting within the course of minutes. The use of private motorboats gives the whalers more speed and maneuverability on the water. The dull blowhole hook, adopted in response to concerns over cruelty, had the additional effect of further increasing the effectiveness of Faroese attempting to beach the whales. In spite of how such improvements to the tools could make the grindadráp more effective, the number of pilot whales caught, both overall and per whale drive, is less than in preceding centuries.

In 1989 the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society commissioned an animated public information film (narrated by Anthony Hopkins) to raise awareness on the Faroe Islands' whaling of long-finned pilot whales. The film is one minute long. It caused controversy when it was released. It depicted a Faroese pilot whale drive in graphic detail, but it is misleading in a number of ways, e.g. it shows whales being sliced and speared from boats in open water, which does not happen during a pilot whale drive in the Faroe Island. It was given a Universal Certificate by the BBFC[citation needed] since it was animated.

Joining the controversy was a book released in 2011, entitled Two Minutes, which was a photo-journalistic account of a pilot whale drive in a Faroese bay. The title referred to the time it took a whale to be killed after having been beached. The book met with considerable controversy.

Active opposition[edit]

One of Sea Shepherd's campers in the Faroes in 2014.

The grindadráp is being actively opposed by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a non-profit, marine conservation organization. In 2011, Sea Shepherd sailed to the Faroe Islands to stop the whaling there. The MY Steve Irwin and the MV Brigitte Bardot took part in the "Operation Ferocious Isles" and claimed to have stopped the harvest as long as they were there. This was publicized in the TV show "Whale Wars: Viking Shores". The organization has announced another campaign in the Faroes in 2014, entitled "Grindstop 2014".[52]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://logir.fo/foldb/kunfo/2013/0000100.htm
  2. ^ http://www.hagstova.fo/fo/hagtalsgrunnur/vinna-og-veida/grind
  3. ^ "Grinds de 2000 à 2013". http://www.whaling.fo/ Catch figures. 
  4. ^ landslaeknin.fo
  5. ^ a b MacKenzie, Debora (28 November 2008). "Faroe islanders told to stop eating 'toxic' whales.". New Scientist. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  6. ^ a b hsf.fo – the Faroese Food- and veterinary authority
  7. ^ http://us.fo/Default.aspx?ID=10642
  8. ^ Killing Methods and Equipment in the Faroese Pilot Whale Hunt – English translation of a working paper by senior veterinarian, Jústines Olsen, originally presented in Danish at the NAMMCO Workshop on Hunting Methods for marine mammals, held in Nuuk, Greenland, in February 1999.[dead link]
  9. ^ Brakes, Philippa (2004). "A background to whaling". In Philippa Brakes, Andrew Butterworth, Mark Simmonds & Philip Lymbery. Troubled Waters: A Review of the Welfare Implications of Modern Whaling Activities. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-9547065-0-0. Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  10. ^ Heimabeiti.fo, Grindayvirlit 1584 – 2010 (Grind statistics from 1584 – 2010), the website is maintained by a former sysselmann in the Faroe Islands.
  11. ^ logir.fo – KUNNGERÐ NR. 100 FRÁ 5. JULI 2013 UM GRIND (The Faroese whaling law, see § 13)
  12. ^ Logir.fo, KUNNGERÐ NR. 107 FRÁ 21. NOVEMBER 1989 UM GÓÐKENNING AV HVALVÁGUM, SUM SEINAST BROYTT VIÐ KUNNGERÐ NR. 94 FRÁ 31. MAI 2001. (Faroese law, which names the authorized locations where whales may be killed. (This law is now outdated, replaced by the law of 2013 "KUNNGERÐ NR. 100 FRÁ 5. JULI 2013 UM GRIND")
  13. ^ Ngs.fo, page 13
  14. ^ heimabeiti.fo
  15. ^ heimabeiti.fo – Ymisk hagtøl um grind (Various statistics about whaling in the Faroes)
  16. ^ The current Grind law of 2013 (Kunngerð um grind)
  17. ^ Joensen, Jóan Pauli, Pilot Whaling in the Faroe Islands. Ethnologia Scandinavica 1976, Lund
  18. ^ grindabatar.com
  19. ^ grindabatar.com, Grindabátarnir og summarið 2014
  20. ^ Sudurras.fo, Grindabátarnir í Vági summarið 2014
  21. ^ logir.fo
  22. ^ heimabeiti.fo
  23. ^ "With the use of the traditional whaling hook, the average total time-to-death taken in the 199 whales recorded was 65.4 seconds, with a range of 8.0 to 290 seconds, and with 50% of whales killed in 55.3 seconds. With the use of the blowhole hook, recorded with a total of 52 whales, the average time-to-death was 29.2 seconds, with a range of 6 to 211 seconds, and with 50% of whales killed in 20.0 seconds.", quote from Killing methods and equipment in the Faroese pilot whale hunt[dead link]
  24. ^ Thornton, A. et Gibson J., Pilot Whaling in the Faroe Islands: A Second Report, Londres, Environmental Investigation Agency, 1985
  25. ^ Bulbeck C. et Bowdler S., « The Faroes grindadràp or pilot whale hunt. », Australian archaeology, 67, décembre 2008
  26. ^ Olsen, J. (1999) Killing Methods and Equipment in the Faroese Pilot Whale Hunt, NAMMCO/99/WS/2
  27. ^ MMR.Sansir.net
  28. ^ Fiskimannafelag.fo – FF-Blaðið, 3. februar 2005, Skaðagrindin í Sandvík í 1915, page 9 (the article is in Faroese, the letter in Danish)
  29. ^ "Marine Hunters: Modern and Traditional". High North Alliance. Retrieved 2006-12-05. [dead link]
  30. ^ "The World Factbook – Faroe Islands". Central Intelligence Agency. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  31. ^ "Pilot Whale catches in the Faroe Islands 1900–2000". Whaling.fo. Archived from the original on 14 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  32. ^ Hmr.fo – The Faroese Ministry of Health
  33. ^ Issuu.com – Vísindavøkublaðið – Reytt kjøt hevur vart føroyingar móti CTD (Red meat has rescued Faroese people from dying from SPCD)
  34. ^ vp.fo, Loksins kom svarið: – Carnitin er í tvøsti. Written by John Jensen, who has lost a son because of SPCD
  35. ^ Setur.fo – The University of the Faroe Islands – Heilsufremjandi selen í tvøsti
  36. ^ in.fo – Hetta skalt tú eta fyri at fáa nokk av D vitaminum (What should you eat in order to get enough vitamin D)
  37. ^ Setur.fo – Healthy Compounds in Meat and Blubber of Whales and Seals, 2013, by Hóraldur Joensen
  38. ^ "Faroe Islands tourist guide 2007—Food from the clean waters". Archived from the original on 7 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-05. 
  39. ^ Whaling in the Faroe Islands#Controversy
  40. ^ Grindavísan on Youtube
  41. ^ Týr's version of Grindavísan
  42. ^ "Whale catches in figures". Faroese Government. Archived from the original on 19 June 2008. Retrieved 2006-12-05. 
  43. ^ http://www.hagstova.fo/portal/page/portal/HAGSTOVAN/Hagstova_Foroya
  44. ^ http://www.whaling.fo/Default.aspx?ID=7125
  45. ^ a b "NAMMCO 1997 and 1999 report on the hunt". Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  46. ^ Taylor, B.L., Baird, R., Barlow, J., Dawson, S.M., Ford, J., Mead, J.G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Wade, P. & Pitman (2008). "Globicephala melas". IUCN. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  47. ^ American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet: Pilot Whale[dead link]
  48. ^ logir.fo – The Faroese Grind Law (Whaling Law) of 2013
  49. ^ "CHEF—Children's Health and the Environment in the Faroes". Retrieved 2006-12-05. 
  50. ^ landslaeknin.fo – Tilmæli um at gevast at eta grind
  51. ^ hfs.fo – Kosttilmæli um at eta grind – In English: Food recommendation regarding consumption of pilot whale meat and blubber (in Faroese)
  52. ^ http://www.seashepherd.org.uk/news-and-media/2013/09/09/sea-shepherd-announces-operation-grindstop-2014-1533

Further reading[edit]

New books:

  • Joensen, Jóan Pauli 2009: Pilot Whaling in the Faroe Islands. History, Ethnography, Symbol, Faroe University Press, Tórshavn 2009
  • Kerins, Seán, 2010. A Thousand Years of Whaling, A Faroese Common Property Regime, Canadian Circumpolar Press, Canada.193pp. Circumpolar Research Series No. 12, ISBN 978-1-896445-52-6.
  • Sanderson, Kate (1990). Whales and Whaling in the Faroe Islands. Tórshavn: Dept. of Fisheries. OCLC 29755860. 
  • van Ginkel, Rob (2007). "Bloody Rituals: The Sicilian Mattanza and the Faroese Grindadrap". Coastal Cultures: An Anthropology of Fishing and Whaling Traditions. Apeldoorn: Het Spinhuis. p. 35. ISBN 978-90-5589-294-5. 

External links[edit]