Faroe Islands updates
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The Faroe Islands have given in to international pressure and said they would reexamine the rules on killing dolphins, after the killing of nearly 1,500 of the mammals last weekend surprised even normally supportive locals.
The whale and dolphin hunt known in the Faroe Islands as Grindadrap, or “Grind”, has long been highly controversial abroad, with the animals brought ashore and killed with knives, turning the crystal clear waters blood red. .
Last Sunday’s mass slaughter of 1,428 white lateral dolphins, more than those that died in total between 2007-2020, has become a watershed moment for the North Atlantic islands and their population of 53,000.
In addition to the large numbers involved, the dolphins were abandoned for hours before being killed, sparking unprecedented criticism within the Faroe Islands, as well as deep concern among politicians and businesses about the impact it could have on major cities. salmon export and tourism industries. .
“We take this matter very seriously,” said Prime Minister Bardur and Steig Nielsen. said Thursday. “Although these hunts are considered sustainable, we will take a closer look at dolphin hunts and the role they should play in Faroese society. The government has decided to begin an evaluation of the regulations on the capture of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. “
Officials said the move was motivated in part by trying to protect pilot whale hunts, which have a longer history than the dolphin version and typically involve 40 to 200 creatures at a time. The hunts only take place when the animals are sighted near the coast, with 10 whales so far this year and only one dolphin on Sunday.
“I am in shock. This destroys the work we have done to protect grind hunts, “Hans Jacob Hermansen, former director of the Faroe Islands Association for grind hunts, told local television.
The current director of the association, Olavur Sjudarberg, told local media that the massacre could damage the reputation of the Faroe Islands abroad and mean the death sentence for all hunts in the long term.
A television debate between two politicians this week over the mass killing was described as “unusually aggressive by Faroese standards” by one official. An opinion poll by the same station suggested that the majority of the Faroese people were against dolphin hunting, which began in 1872, while around four-fifths continue to support the killing of pilot whales.
Sea Shepherd, a long-standing marine conservation campaign group calling for an end to hunting, called Sunday’s dolphin slaughter “is so brutal and so poorly managed that it is not surprising that the hunt is being criticized in the Faroese media and even by many politicians and whalers who come out in favor of whaling.” .
The Faroese government noted that pilot whaling was “an ancient and integral part of the Faroese food culture” providing one of the few local sources of meat that does not have to be imported. He also emphasized that the hunts were sustainable as pilot whales are abundant in the northeast Atlantic and that changes in regulations mean that the creatures typically die within seconds.
The fishing industry accounts for almost all exports and a fifth of the economy of the Faroe Islands, while tourism has become increasingly important as foreign visitors increasingly come to see the lush, green archipelago.
But the business interests of the Faroe Islands, an autonomous nation that is part of the kingdom of Denmark, are increasingly concerned about negative headlines of the dolphin slaughter and a number of celebrities like comedian Ricky Gervais who have criticized the hunts. .