Governance and SocietyNatureWhaling

Dolphin hunt to be evaluated — Prime Minister

Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen.

“The Atlantic white-sided dolphin catch on Sunday 12 September has raised some issues about Atlantic white-sided dolphin catches, e.g. the number of dolphins taken in a single drive and hunting methods in dolphin drives,” the Government of the Faroe Islands announces.

“The situation on 12 September was extraordinary, mainly because the pod was several times larger than is usually the case,” a Government statement dated September 16th read. 

“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,” the statement added.

The pilot whale hunt, also known as “grind,” is an ancient and integral part of Faroese food culture. But pilot whales and dolphins are different, they have very different roles in our society. Atlantic white-sided dolphin hunts have not been a part of Faroese tradition to the same degree and do not have the same cultural legitimacy.

“We take this matter very seriously,” Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen said. “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.”

In context

Some context was added. “As an island nation the Faroe Islands have a strong commitment to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 — to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The Government of the Faroe Islands underlines the right and responsibility of the Faroese people to utilize the resources of the sea sustainably.”

Traditional means of food production from local resources are an important supplement to the livelihoods of the islanders. These include mountain grazing sheep, coastal fishing for household use and occasional catches of pilot whales and other small cetaceans.

“These food resources have enabled the Faroe Islands as an island nation to maintain a relatively high degree of self-sufficiency in food production. In the Faroe Islands it is considered both economically and environmentally responsible to make the most of local natural resources, and to maintain the knowledge required to make use of what nature provides in a harsh oceanic environment.”

“Pilot whales and other small whales represent one of few local sources of meat that does not have to be imported from afar,” the statement further noted. “The meat from each whale drive provides valuable food, which is distributed for free in the local communities where the whale drives take place, food that would otherwise have to be imported from sources in other countries.”

The full statement can be read here.

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