NGOs Urge Int'l Community To Address Whaling In Faroe Islands After Dolphin Massacre

NGOs Urge Int'l Community to Address Whaling in Faroe Islands After Dolphin Massacre

Animal rights groups are up in arms over the recent mass slaughter of dolphins in the Faroe Islands, calling on the international community to take action on the issue, activists have told Sputnik

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 17th September, 2021) Animal rights groups are up in arms over the recent mass slaughter of dolphins in the Faroe Islands, calling on the international community to take action on the issue, activists have told Sputnik.

Last Sunday, 1,428 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were killed during the so-called "grind," a traditional drive-hunt that mainly involves pilot whales, but could also target other cetaceans such as dolphins. The scale of the hunt has sparked outrage around the globe, with Faroese Prime Minister Bardur a Steig Nielsen saying the government has decided to look into regulations on catching Atlantic white-sided dolphins.

From 2010 to 2020, the grind has resulted in 1,204 Atlantic white-sided dolphins killed along with 21 Risso's dolphins, 16 common bottlenose dolphins, and a staggering 7,533 long-finned pilot whales, according to the OceanCare marine wildlife protection group.

"The pilot whale hunt on the Faroe Islands has historically been part of Faroese culture and essential for the islander's ability to feed themselves. However, this is no longer the case and today the hunts can only be described as senseless and without purpose," Gitte Buchhave, the director of the World Animal Protection Denmark, a part of the World Animal Protection international animal rights organization, told Sputnik.

This sentiment is echoed by Nick Stewart, head of wildlife campaigns at World Animal Protection, who told Sputnik that such hunts are extremely gruesome and inhumane toward whales or dolphins "who clearly experience immense pain and stress during these massacres."

"Cultural practices can and do change, and tradition alone cannot justify cruelty. By treating these sentient wild animals as mere targets for organised slaughter, we are risking the future of our oceans," Stewart asserted.

More and more local residents have soured at least on killing dolphins.

"In a public opinion poll among the Faroese, 63% are against the killing of dolphins. These significant reactions among the islanders themselves, as well as the international outcry, are powerful. It demonstrates that such practice is not undisputed locally," Fabienne McLellan, a program lead at OceanCare, explained to Sputnik.

Apart from the whale having become increasingly unpalatable to many over the years, there is also a health risk, as dolphin or pilot whale meat is contaminated with mercury, which is highly toxic.

"This means that most of the meat is likely to rot on the shores as many Faroese will not eat the meat, as it is considered a health hazard," Buchhave averred.

With various objections against whaling in the Faroese Islands piling up, activist groups have been quick to respond to the latest grind, calling for an international effort to send the tradition into the dustbin of history.

"We call for a political reaction by the international community ... The current mass killing of dolphins has occurred in European waters - this must be addressed by the European Commission and the EU Member States, including, of course, the Danish Government (as the autonomous region of the Faroe Islands belongs to the kingdom of Denmark)," OceanCare's McLellan said.

World Animal Protection, for its part, is encouraging a worldwide protest to pressure the relevant authorities to act.

"Many members of the international community such as scientists, NGOs and governments strongly oppose the Faroese whale and dolphin hunts. Together, we must urge community leaders to consider the unnecessary pain inflicted on these intelligent, social mammals," Stewart said.

Meanwhile, the UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation is working with Faroese who oppose whale hunts, and contacting the UK government and other NGOs to discuss future plans about the issue, Communication Manager Danny Groves told Sputnik.