Energy & Environment

Faroe Islands reviewing traditional dolphin hunt following slaughter

credit: Sea Shepherd

The prime minister of the Faroe Islands said the government will evaluate regulations around catching white-sided dolphins following public outcry after nearly 1,500 were killed in a recent hunt.

“We take this matter very seriously,” Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen said in a statement on Thursday. “Although these hunts are considered sustainable, we will be looking closely at the dolphin hunts, and what part they should play in Faroese society. The government has decided to start an evaluation of the regulations on the catching of Atlantic white-sided dolphins.” 

Last week, almost 1,500 white-side dolphins were killed during a hunt in the Faroe Islands as part of a long tradition of dolphin hunting, known as the grindadráp. The practice is subject to regulatory oversight, but the size of the recent haul sparked outrage and surprise among some. 

“Normally meat from a grindadrap is shared amongst the participants and any remainder among the locals in the district where the hunt place. However there is more dolphin meat from this hunt than anyone wants to take, so the dolphins are being offered to other districts in the hopes of not having to dump it,” the conservation group, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said in a statement last Wednesday.

The haul of 1,428 may be the largest in the Danish territory’s history, The Washington Post reported.  

Sea Shepherd claimed the killing of the dolphins was “brutal and badly mishandled,” claiming that people who engaged in the hunt had broken several laws and subjected the dolphins to slow and painful deaths.

The government of the Faroe Islands said in its statement that around 250 wide-sided dolphins are caught each year, though they acknowledged that the numbers can fluctuate each year.

It added “the pod outnumbered the second largest pod ever by more than three times, which resulted in severe difficulties once the animals had reached the bay.”

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