Anger after more than 1,400 dolphins hunted in one day off Faroe Islands

·2-min read
Dolphins (AFP via Getty Images)
Dolphins (AFP via Getty Images)

Dolphin hunting in the Faroe Islands has been condemned after 1,428 white-sided dolphins were slaughtered over the weekend.

It is part of a four-century-old traditional drive of sea mammals into shallow water where they are killed for their meat and blubber, reigniting debate on the “traditional” practice.

Warning: This article contains images some may find distressing.

The hunt in the North Atlantic islands is not commercial and is authorised but environmental activists claim it is cruel.

Boats herded them into shallow waters at Skalabotnur beach in Eysturoy, where they were killed with knives, while the carcases were pulled ashore and distributed to locals for consumption.

Heri Petersen, the foreman of a group that drives pilot whales toward shore on the central Faroe island of Eysturoy, said he was not told about the dolphin drive and "strongly dissociated" himself from it.

He told the news outlet there were too many dolphins and too few people on the beach to slaughter them.

Islanders usually kill up to 1,000 sea mammals annually, according to data kept by the Faroe Islands. Last year, that included only 35 white-sided dolphins.

Olavur Sjurdarberg, chairman of the Faroese Pilot Whale Hunt Association, feared Sunday's slaughter would revive the discussion about the sea mammal drives and put a negative spin on the ancient tradition of the 18 rocky islands located halfway between Scotland and Iceland.

They are semi-independent and part of the Danish realm.

"We need to keep in mind that we are not alone on earth. On the contrary, the world has become much smaller today, with everyone walking around with a camera in their pocket," Mr Sjurdarberg told local broadcaster KVF.

"This is a fabulous treat for those who want us (to look bad) when it comes to pilot whale catching.

Faroese Fishery Minister Jacob Vestergaard told local radio station Kringvarp Foeroya everything was done by the book in the dolphin hunt.

For years, the Seattle-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been opposing the sea mammal drives that date from the late 16th century. On Facebook, the organisation described the weekend's events as "an illegal hunt".

The white-side dolphins and pilot whales are not endangered species.

The drives are regulated by laws and the meat and blubber are shared on a community basis.

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