Denmark: Response Given to Faroes Pilot Whale Annual Slaughter

Denmark has now provided campaigners with a rather pathetic attempt to justify the annual slaughter of Faroe Island Pilot whales, photographs of which can be seen here with additional images via the following SAV link:

The Danish response is as follows: – ‘Asli’ is the campaigner who had the response in this case.


Dear Asli

Thank you for your recent letter regarding whaling in the Faroes.

Your concern and interest is greatly appreciated. We are well aware that media and campaign reports about whaling in the Faroes can be very disturbing when presented out of context, without a reliable and factual explanation of the circumstances, regulations and management measures in place. We are therefore grateful for this opportunity to provide you with some basic facts about the Faroes and our utilisation of whales. More detailed information is available on the websites listed below.

The Faroes are a self-governing nation under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Faroese Parliament legislates independently of Denmark on all areas of self-government, including the conservation and management of fish and whale stocks within the 200-mile fisheries zone. Unlike Denmark, the Faroes are not a member of the EU, but maintain bilateral trade agreements and bilateral fisheries agreements with the EU and a number of other countries, including our nearest neighbours, Norway and Iceland.

The economy of the Faroe Islands is overwhelmingly dependent on the sustainable use of marine resources, with commercial fisheries being the main industry.

Pilot whales and other small whales are utilised for food in the Faroes and represent one of very few local sources of meat. Both the meat and blubber of pilot whales have for centuries been a staple part of the national diet. Whale drives are fully regulated by law and regulations and catches are shared on a community basis among the participants in a whale drive and residents of the local district where the whales are landed. The annual average catch of around 900 whales is roughly equivalent to 500 tonnes of meat and blubber, some 30% of all meat produced locally in the Faroes.

Scientists estimate the stock in the North Atlantic to be over 700,000, which means that the average catch is fully sustainable. Only schools of whales that are sighted close to shore are utilised. Continuous annual catch statistics dating back to around 1600 make Faroese whaling one of the best documented uses of a natural resource anywhere in the world.

Faroese animal welfare legislation, which also applies to whaling, requires that animals suffer as little as possible when killed. Entire schools of whales are killed on the shore and in the shallows of bays especially authorised for the purpose. Knives are used to sever the major blood supply to the brain. This is the most efficient and humane means of killing a school of beached pilot whales quickly and safely, but naturally results in a lot of blood in the water. Killing methods in Faroese whaling are subject to regular veterinary monitoring programmes, which examine the times-to-death of individual animals in the hunt and the efficiency of the organisation of the drive and the equipment used.

The Faroes cooperate internationally through NAMMCO – the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission on the conservation of whales and the management of whaling, which includes valuable technical cooperation with other countries in the region on hunting methods, as well as an international observation scheme to ensure international transparency and oversight in national regulations.

Internationally adopted principles for the conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources apply to all components of the marine ecosystem, including both fish and whales. Ensuring that utilisation of these resources is sustainable requires a sound scientific basis and international cooperation on the conservation and management of shared and highly migratory stocks. As a small nation highly dependent on the resources of the sea, commitment to upholding these principles is a priority for the Faroes.

Yours sincerely,





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