Update on the Faroe Islands’ tradition “Grindadráp” - TAF trip 2016

The inhabitants are in general very open about the whale drive BUT it seems like they have all been brainwashed and educated to repeat exactly the same words to our questions!

They are a proud nation and want 100% to continue with their tradition. The actions from activists in the last few years have made them even more protective of their tradition and culture especially the young generation who now want to show the world that NO ONE shall come and interfere in their culture!

The Faroe Islanders own view of the GRINDADRAP :

  1. It’s a tradition.
  2. It’s a culture.
  3. It’s a specialty, consumed approx. every 3 months ( in the past it was every week).
  4. It’s delicious and they are not willing to trade it with another kind of meat!
  5. The fact that the meat is for free is not an issue. The supermarkets sell all kinds of food and at the same prices as in Denmark, so there is an abundant of food available.
  6. They are proud of the Grindadrap, they talk freely about it.
  7. Men participate, women and children watch. Men mainly do it because whales are heavy and it takes many strong men to handle one whale, but today some women also like to participate. Some kids help to tow the whales further up to the beach and cut their teeth out for souvenirs!
  8. Schools educate the children in the procedure and kids can leave school when Grindadrap is taking place, just as men and women can leave their work place immediately to participate.
  9. They have new rules and better improved weapons to kill – before it wasn’t humane, but now it’s OK they say!
  10. “The slaughtering goes fast and takes seconds” they claim, however, researchers have proven that it takes up to 15 minutes . This data seems more realistic, as big pods of approximately hundred of whales are driven into small beaches. In addition, the family members of the Pilot whales watch their own being slaughtered while waiting for their turn.
  11. Since 2015, it has been necessary to have a certificate to slaughter, but everyone can easily obtain it. Maybe this new law is the outcome of the hearing in Denmark with Sea Shepherd and their interaction in 2015, in order to appear more regulated?
  12. “Why is it a problem”, the inhabitants ask! “It is the same as killing a pig or a cow in Denmark. It just looks horrible as the sea goes red- as it also does when you cut your finger”!
  13. For the Faroes, a whale is a big fish which tastes good and relates to old tradition.
  14. The inhabitants all claimed that it is good meat as the whales have lived a free and had happy life in the ocean and not like the pigs or chicken in cages . They don’t seem to understand that pigs, cows and chickens are raised/ farmed for consumption like their own salmon. When we mentioned this, they ignored it.
  15. No one mentioned the whales’ importance in the ecosystem and when we asked the question, the answer was ”it’s so few anyway so it doesn’t matter”.
  16. Whale meat is sold in the local supermarket SMS in Torshavn and in a few restaurants. It is no longer being served  in other places as the Faeroes have claimed that the whale drive is not commercial. Serving it, therefore goes against this claim.
  17. Most Faeroes are not interested in the Mercury level in the whales, as there are too many different opinions from doctors. They think that it’s just pregnant women to whom it can be harmful. And they all say that as they only eat it every 3rd month, they do not care. Some women didn’t eat it while they were pregnant and didn’t allow their kids to have it while growing up. A common phase we heard was “eating an apple full of pesticides or a danish red sausage is worse than eating whale meat”.
  18. “Pilot whales are never seen, so Grindadrap is rare,” they claim. However, the statistic shows that it does happen every year with around 800-900 Pilot whales being slaughtered.
  19. In an official statement from North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission it is stated that the whale drive includes Bottlenose Dolphins, White beaked Dolphins and White- sided dolphins. When we asked the Faroes what they did with the killed dolphins, they all claimed that no dolphins were killed. However, the proofs from NAMMCO and EIA are confirming the slaughter of dolphins: https://eia-international.org/faroe-islands-whale-killings-now-dolphins-join-slaughter.
  20. They think that whale watching is useless as they don’t know where the whales are. However, they do manage to find the whales as they slaughter them every year. It would more sustainable and profitable to practice whale watching in the summer months instead of whale hunt.
  21. Most are not afraid of less tourism due their whale drive, “those who come can come, the others can stay away”, were their words! However, practically everywhere one can find brochures and posters of the islands and their attractions, including the “Grindadrap“. The statistics mention tourism as their 2nd source of revenue.
  22. There was a law of 2 years imprisonment if one does not communicate a spotted whale pod, it was introduced as a Sea Shepherd law in June 2015. Right after, 2 cruise companies from USA and Germany cancelled their trips to the Feroe Islands, so it is maybe the reason why it has been removed in order to get the tourists back, or does the rule still exist without any publication?.

A man shows his son how to take teeth out of the Pilot whale

With spinal lance and knife, they claim it only take seconds to kill!

Our View:

  • Pilot whales are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with a Category & Criteria as data deficient, so the argument about whether or not it is sustainable as the Faeroes claim cannot be accepted.
  • In 2016, with a GDP of $2.613 billion per annum, hardly any unemployment, a good education system, ( see TAF document : Information about the Faroe Islands ) rich culture, no lack of food in their local supermarkets, plenty of sheep, salmon breeding everywhere (95% of their export comes from fishing and is 20% of their BNP), birds, links to the islands with tunnels or boats to all food channels, we see absolutely no need to slaughter whales for food!
  • It’s revolting to hear that an argument for keeping the killing going on is that the meat tastes good!
  • It has been emphasized that it is important for the Faeroes to get the whale meat as it is free. To those we spoke to, this was absolutely not important and no one wanted to trade it with any other meat for free!
  • Whether or not the Faeroes believe in the existence of high level of Mercury and other Toxins in the whale meat and whether it should be eaten or not, is their choice, however, it seems worrying and corrupt that there are so many different opinions concerning the topic from doctors on the islands.
  • It’s also surprising and frightening that a population politically linked to Denmark hasn’t heard about the ocean depletion (only 10% of fish left in the ocean) and the importance of the whales in the food chain and the ecosystem.
  • We understand the population and the heritage of the islands are closely connected and have their beautiful nature which they can be proud of. However, to maintain OLD VIKING TRADITIONS and, furthermore, to be very proud of the killing procedure and to teach their children that it’s OK to cut teeth out of slaughtered whales for a souvenir, is abhorrent.
  • It is neither appropriate nor humane in today’s modern society, when there are so many other environmental issues that the ocean, its mammals and the world have to fight against!

We therefore strongly advise to STOP the Grindadrap NOW!

Year 1898 and today – Nothing has changed!

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