154 pilot whales were killed in the shallow waters of Miðvágur. The amount of blubber already exceeds the recommended monthly intake. Interfering with the grind has become more difficult with a new law introduced in May.

(c) Marna Olsen

Marna Olsen

Guest blog from Marna Olsen

154 pilot whales killed in a one-hour long slaughter
Saturday morning on 6. June I received the awful news that there had been ‘grindaboð’ on my home islands. A hunt was about to take place. All I could do was hope and pray that the whales would escape the boats that had started to follow them as early as 4 am. Unfortunately they didn’t escape but were killed in the shallow waters of Miðvágur fjord.

The killing itself began around 8 am and took nearly one hour, if not longer. The participating men had to walk quite far out through the shallow water in order to reach the stranded whales, says district administrator Finnbogi Midjord in a short radio interview. In spite of this the hunt went well and by the book, he says.

The 154 dead pilot whales were pulled onto the wharf where they were sliced into shares and distributed amongst the citizens of Vágur municipality.

More than enough blubber
The amount of blubber resulting from this one hunt exceeds the maximum intake of 50 grams per month per person recommended by the health authorities. That is if we imagine that every single one of the 48.000 inhabitants ate whale blubber. They don’t.

Girls and women who have not yet given birth to their children should refrain from eating blubber altogether because of the high concentration of PCBs. The intake of PCBs has serious health implications and is linked to cancer.

(c) Marna Olsen
Interference made difficult
Not a single black-shirted activist was seen at this first hunt of the year. Sea Shepherd hadn’t arrived yet, but they returned to the islands on 14. June with their campaign Operation Sleppid Grindini. The organization has announced an increased presence in the North Atlantic to fight against whaling in not only Faroe Islands but Iceland and Norway as well, and along with the volunteers are the ships Bob Barker and Sam Simon in addition to the trimaran Brigitte Bardot.

How far will the volunteers go this year? After all the fuss with Sea Shepherd last year the Faroese got tired of not having legal power to prevent activists from interfering with a hunt. A 1.000 DKK fine simply wasn’t doing the trick. So on 19. May a new law was introduced (grindalógin) that gives the police authority to detain suspects for up to 12 hours without arrest and take vehicles and tools into custody. The penalty for obstructing a grind is now a minimum fine of 25.000 DKK and up to two years in jail.

The shaming isn’t helping
As an animal friend myself I well understand the anger, sadness and frustration that arise in people when they hear news of animal cruelty. But airing these emotions through comments on social media calling Faroese people barbarians, evil murderers or sick bastards simply does not assist the cause. Quite the opposite actually. You get what you give, right? It’s a universal law. So all you would get is anger, resistance and shutting off in return.

What to do instead? Think twice before you comment, first of all. Express hope and optimism that things will change for the good instead of spreading negativity. Remember that we are all people and nobody is without faults, not the whalers and not yourself. Be constructive and share your knowledge and creative ideas with the Faroese people, who in the end will be the ones making the shift. Last but not least, support organizations and individuals that work for the good.