Iceland and the Faroe Islands continue to kill cetaceans

July 18, 2022

In the last few weeks, we have sadly seen the resumption of the killing of fin whales in Iceland and, in just the last few days, a notification from the Faroe Islands that they mean to continue and codify dolphin killing there.

The two whaling ships owned by the Icelandic company Hvalur hf. have been killing fin whales for the last few weeks. This is after a hiatus of four years when no whales were killed in Iceland apart from a single minke whale taken in 2021. The whale hunting quota issued by Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute for this season is 161 fin whales and 217 minke whales and, whilst there are no official figures issued yet, reports indicate that tens of fin whales have already been taken. There is also a report that one fin whale was stuck by a harpoon that did not explode. Hunting of fin whales is conducted using grenade harpoons that explode on impact and which also embed themselves allowing the whales to be hauled to the catcher vessels. The failure of a harpoon to explode is likely to mean that the death of the whale was prolonged.

The Icelandic Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir has since stated that whaling vessels may be required to have an animal welfare officer aboard in the future to monitor the conduct of the whaling. She stated that the goal of such regulation would be to ensure that the whales are treated as ethically as possible. Svandís added that since slaughterhouses face strict regulations under the government, that whaling ships should also be held accountable for the ethical treatment of their catch.

Meanwhile in the Faroe Islands, after the shameful killing of some 1,400 Atlantic White Sided dolphins in a single hunt last September, the inquiry set up there to investigate this in detail (and from which we have long expected a report), seems to have finally concluded, but in a most disappointing way. The ministry of fisheries issued a statement on July 10th saying that they plan to limit the total annual kill to 500 dolphins, this year and the same next year. They did not appear to provide any explanation of how they came to this conclusion.

OceanCare sees this as a further endorsement of the dolphin killing and notes that 500 is greater than the average number of this species taken in the last few years apart from the exceptional hunt in September last year.

We do not believe that the dolphin killing is supported by the majority of people in the Faroe Islands – this has been indicated by recent opinion polls conducted there – and so this makes the decision to continue killing the dolphins all the more extraordinary and regrettable.

OceanCare is very disappointed at the development in Iceland and the decision made in the Faroese Islands and we will continue to do our best to encourage them to change their minds.

Video of the harpooned whales being returned to port in Iceland provided by 'Hard to Port'

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