Faroe Islanders tool-up to kill more dolphins

June 13, 2023

News breaking in the Faroe Islands reveals that killing tools designed to despatch dolphins have been distributed around the islands indicating that some islanders mean to increase their takes of the smaller species.

The islands are infamous for still hunting pilot whales but smaller dolphins are also taken, including in September 2021 when more than 1,400 white-sided dolphins (an oceanic species) were taken in a single hunt. This hunt was robustly criticised all across the world and also in the Faroe Islands where people were not only deeply upset by so many animals being killed but also specifically concerned that the hunters were not adequately equipped to kill such a large number of animals efficiently. The Faroese government promised an inquiry into dolphin killing but its results have never been published. Instead it has been reported on Faroese websites that a ‘new’ killing tool designed for the smaller species is now being widely distributed.

The main device used to kill pilot whales once they have been driven ashore is called a spinal lance. It is a metal rod with a double-edged blade on one end and a handle on the other. The device is plunged into the whale’s body a handspan behind their blow holes. It is driven down between the animal’s neck vertebrae to try to sever the spinal cord and then moved from side to side to cut adjacent blood vessels.

A smaller version of this same tool was developed for smaller animals but was not used in the 2021 dolphin hunt when ‘whaling knives’ were deployed. What the news from the islands now indicates is that some islanders will not only continue to kill pilot whales, but are also planning on stepping up their kills of the smaller species.

Whale and dolphin killing in the islands mainly occurs in the better weather months of the year and resumed just a few weeks ago. To date this year, the islanders have killed more than 120 pilot whales, including pregnant females and their foetuses, juveniles and young calves.

OceanCare believes that whale and dolphin killing in the Faroes is cruel, meets no pressing human needs and raises conservation concerns.  We recently sponsored an independent expert veterinary review of whale killing and which has been widely distributed to the relevant authorities in Europe and the Faroe Islands. This review further emphasised welfare concerns about how killing was conducted using the spinal lance and OceanCare is deeply concerned that the Faroe islanders will now be expanding their hunts to target smaller species. We call again for the killing of all whales and dolphins to end in the islands.


OceanCare Independent Report: (in Faroese).