Located northwest of Scotland between Norway and Iceland lie the Faroe Islands a magical archipelago in the North Atlantic ocean. The inhabitants of this beautiful place are the Faroese. Proud descendants of Norse settlers they have prided themselves for 1200 years on their ability to survive in this remote area. Today the population is approximately 48,565 (source)
Rúni Nielsen, Faroe Islander, and Earthrace (ECO) chapter leader describes what life has been like for the Faroese of days gone by,
I’m Faroese and proud of it. We a very small group of people who have been on the brink of extinction many times. We have our own unique language which has survived intact despite the enormous pressure from 814 years of colonial oppression from foreign powers. The Plague tooks it toll in the 1300’s and again in 1400’s. 400 years of fighting off pirate attacks from the French,Ottomans, Dutch and others. Danish trade monopoly in the Islands prevented a proud and strong stock of weather beaten people to prosper in peace. During all these years, the Faroese kept their society despite dwindling in numbers (at one time approximately only 4000 people were left). We kept the parliament rule and structures in general. During WWII we sailed in wooden ship (sloops) to fish from Iceland to Great Britain where mines, submarines, and fighter planes infested the waters. Unarmed so to speak, each ship had only one single handheld machine gun. But we sailed and delivered the fish to feed a much bigger nation in need and peril. Many 1000’s of faroese lost there lives at sea. (Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. leader Faroe Islands)
On August 8, 2012 a grind took place near Vágur. 196 pilot whales were slaughtered. On the following day another grind took place on the shore of Hvannasund. There 40 pilot whales were slaughtered. The meat is then distributed amongst the islanders.
Total count 459 whales for 2012. Total skins distributed 3279. 1 skin is 75 kg (165.5 lb) of food. 3279 skins x 75 kg (165.5 lb) /skin = 245925 kg (54,2172 lb) of food, 246 metric tonnes (54,2331.6 lbs). Inhabitants 1st of March 2012 48386 (10,6673 lb) 5.08 (11lb 3oz) to each man, woman and child if evenly distributed. Recommended maximum consumption per month pr 70 kg of bodyweight for adults is 300 gr.” This equals 116126 kg (25,6014lb). Over exploitation is thereby 129799 kg ( 28,6157,81 lb), which equals 242 too many whales taken this year already compared to the public recommendation. Keep it in mind that we here have calculated with a share for each and every man, woman and child. It is not recommended to feed to children or women in childbearing age. (Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. Leader Faroe Islands)
Why the strict regulations on the consumption of pilot whale meat? Due to worldwide pollution heavy metals and PCB’s have accumulated at the top of the food chain. Whale and dolphin meat is known to contain high amounts of Mercury and PCB’s,
It was Dr. Pal Weihe, Chief Physician from the Faroese Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, and a leading researcher into the effects of mercury on people that eat grind meat, who said as far back as 1998 that his own Government should ban consumption completely to date, this hasn’t happened although a recent advisory notice from Faroese Food and Veterinary Authority (June 2011) halved the original 1998 recommendations from 10kg per person per year to just 4kg with additional notices surrounding consumption by girls and women of child-bearing age, and children. (source)
What will and won’t work to end the Faroe Islands dolphin drives? Dolphin activist Sasha Alazy who recently returned from the Faroe Islands shared his insight:
My personal experience from the Faroe Islands is the following: To solve problems, you have to stick to the truth and listen to both sides. Every story has two sides. Insults, aggression, discrimination and hatred do NOT help whales but builds support for whaling in this island country – it makes things even worse for the whales! Interference annoys them and creates solidarity, making things more difficult. We must learn that we cannot solve problems with violence or force change. If people understand this and put that “enemy image” aside, that would be a huge support for the anti-whalers. As my esteemed colleague Leah Lemieux said: ‘If you want the Faroese to become friends with whales, you must first become friends with the Faroese.’ (Sasha Alazy, dolphin activist)
Eco chapter leader for the Faroe Islands Rúni Nielsen suggests three objective reasons for ending the grind:
1. Not suited for consumption because of contaminant,
2.Unsafe killing method – even if immensely improved- different circumstances make in tangent to animal cruelty,
3. Pilot whale could be and endangered species. (Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. Leader Faroe Islands)
The toxicity of whale and dolphin meat will most likely be the cause of ending whale and dolphin hunts worldwide.
…Earthrace Conservation believes that ultimately, it will be the health risks of eating whales that will end the hunts that outrage the anti-whaling lobby, and not the protests or physical confrontations that make the headlines. (source)
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