| 16.8°C Belfast

Faroe Islands put a cap on dolphin hunt after huge 2021 kill

The hunt in the Danish islands is part of a four-century-old tradition of killings the animals for their meat and blubber.

Close

(Alamy/PA)

(Alamy/PA)

(Alamy/PA)

The government in the Faroe Islands is proposing an annual catch limit of 500 white-sided dolphins on a provisional basis for 2022 and 2023, after last year’s slaughter of more than 1,400 in a day led to international condemnation and local criticism.

The hunt in the Danish islands, in the North Atlantic, is part of a traditional four-century-old drive of sea mammals into shallow water, where they are killed for their meat and blubber.

It is not commercial and is authorised, but environmental activists claim it is cruel.

Close

Protests against the annual slaughter (Alamy/PA)

Protests against the annual slaughter (Alamy/PA)

Alamy Stock Photo

Protests against the annual slaughter (Alamy/PA)

Even people in the Faroes who defend the traditional practice worried that last year’s hunt would draw unwanted attention because it was far larger than previous ones and seemingly took place without the usual organisation.

The semi-independent government said the capping measure was “in response to the unusually large catch” on September 14 last year.

It added that the proposal is expected to be implemented as an executive order by July 25.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

“Aspects of that catch were not satisfactory, in particular the unusually large number of dolphins killed,” the government said in a statement, adding that this is “unlikely to be a sustainable level of catch on a long-term annual basis”.

Local media reported there were too many dolphins and too few people on the beach to kill them, sparking fear the 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.

Close

Torshavn Harbour in the Faroe Islands (Alamy/PA)

Torshavn Harbour in the Faroe Islands (Alamy/PA)

Alamy Stock Photo

Torshavn Harbour in the Faroe Islands (Alamy/PA)

Islanders usually kill up to 1,000 sea mammals — chiefly pilot whales — annually, according to data kept by the Faeroe Islands. In 2020, that included only 35 white-sided dolphins. White-sided dolphins and pilot whales are not endangered species.

Each year, islanders drive herds of the mammals into shallow waters. A blow-hole hook is used to secure the beached animals and their spine and main artery leading to the brain are severed with knives.

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

The government said it “continues to base its policies and management measures on the right and responsibility of (its) people to utilise the resources of the sea sustainably. This also includes marine mammals, such as pilot whales and dolphins”.


Top Videos



Privacy