Faroese slaughter record number of pilot whales in 2010

Nov 26, 2010

Pilot whales killed in Faroe Islands

In an upsetting development, Faroe Islanders have slaughtered more pilot whales in 2010 than in any of the past 15 years. The average annual catch for the past 10 years has been 627 pilot whales, while 1,115 have already been killed this year, to date. The Faroese government has not explained why so many whales have been killed this year and, despite claims to the contrary, TV footage shot in the Faroes clearly shows that the brutal methods used to kill the whales have not improved, and likely inflict appalling suffering on the whales.

Joanna Toole, WSPA’s Marine Mammals Programs Manager, says: “The act of killing large groups of these intelligent, social whales is shocking. A highly-modern community killing more than 1,100 whales in this cruel way is completely unacceptable.”

Highly controversial – and contaminated - meat

During the past two decades, extensive research, led by Dr. Pál Weihe of the Faroese Department of Public and Occupational Health, has examined the health impacts of contaminants – including mercury and PCBs –found in pilot whale meat and blubber. In August 2008, Dr. Weihe and Faroese Chief Medical Officer Dr. Høgni Debes Joensen issued a statement recommending that pilot whale no longer be used for human consumption, due to significant health threats.

The Faroese Government says it is in the process of evaluating these findings but, in the meantime, recommends that consumers still follow its dietary advice of 1998, which states that people eat no more than one or two meals containing pilot whale meat, per month. It also states that pregnant or breast-feeding women should refrain from eating any pilot whale meat at all. 

Safe consumption levels surpassed

Figures show that hunts in 2010 have produced about 550 tons of pilot meat and blubber for the archipelago’s 49,000 inhabitants – that’s approximately 24 lbs of whale for every islander. This figure equates to nearly five times the supposedly safe consumption recommendations, and completely ignores the more recent warning not to eat pilot whale at all.

Because many people, including infants and some mothers, do not consume pilot whale meat and many others are unable to obtain it, some people will inevitably be consuming much higher amounts. By allowing these hunts to continue, the Faroese Government is callously ignoring both this proven threat to the health of its citizens and the ongoing cruelty inflicted on the whales.

Image © EIA

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