Report on the first grindadráp of 2017

Dienstag, 23 Mai, 2017

On the evening of 21st May the first pilot whale drive hunt (grindadráp) of 2017 took place on the Danish Faroe Islands at the killing bay at Bøur, near the town of Sørvágur.


Commentary by Robert Read, Chief Operating Officer at Sea Shepherd UK.


The Pod of long finned pilot whales was driven for almost four hours by at first three boats, then five (including at least two RIBs) then by over 20 Faroese boats of various types including small sports fishing boats, speed boats and a large RHIB from the Faroese Government patrol vessel ‘Brimil’.

During the drive hunt images were being uploaded to Faroese online news websites taken from at least one of the participating small boats while at least three local journalists and/or photographers were waiting with cameras at the killing bay at Bøur.

In common with most previous grindadráp hunts, the Faroese appear to have inexplicable difficulty in counting whales both while they are being driven using boats and when they have just been killed. During this grindadráp while the pilot whales were being driven for hours towards the killing bay, local journalists on differing news sites reported the pod as being 30 to 50 individuals while other estimates stated a pod of around 100 whales. By 22:40hrs local time the hunt was over and the Faroese media were reporting between 50 and 55 pilot whales killed. Then by mid-morning the next day a count of the bodies revealed they had actually killed 84 pilot whales.

It is highly unusual anywhere in the world for allegedly experienced and now (since 2015) trained/certified participants in a supposedly tightly regulated government sanctioned hunt to have little idea of how many animals they are driving for hours to a designated slaughter area then have no idea how many they have killed for many hours after they have started posting celebratory reports and photos on national news websites. The grindadráp unlike most other large scale hunts has no season, no quota and - it appears on a local level by whaling districts - no idea of how many animals they actually need to kill to supplement their diet (which in reality is totally unnecessary since the end of WW2 with increased trade by sea and by air).

The grindadráp unlike most other large scale hunts has no season, no quota and no idea of how many animals they actually need to kill to supplement their diet.

Rob Read, Chief Operations Officer, Sea Shepherd UK

These days the Faroese grindadráp is continued not out of necessity to fend off starvation of the people, but instead is continued under misguided sense of national pride in this communal hunt of their Viking ancestors. The reality is a modern grindadráp is little more than a community sport providing free meat for an already wealthy, well fed population. Meat to feed the community says the Faroese government except that many hunters Faroese sell their shares of whale meat and blubber for profit online, or to places like the newly Michelin starred restaurant ‘KOKS’ or any of the restaurants like the Marco Polo restaurant in the capital Tórshavn which sell whale to tourists. If the people do by choice eat the contaminated meat or blubber themselves, a profit can always be made by selling the teeth of the killed pilot whales strung on cord as necklaces to foreign tourists to illegally import back to their own country as souvenirs.

Faroese media images of the grindadráp of 21st May 2017 can be viewed at: [WARNING – graphic images]

The Faroese grindadráp is incredibly cruel with suffering caused during several hours while the pod is driven by dozens of boats. The pilot whales are then killed over an extended period (from minutes to sometimes hours) in front of their entire family while beached on sand, rocks or just struggling in shallow water until not a single pilot whale is left. The Faroese have no mercy. Every pilot whale in the pod is killed including pregnant mothers, juveniles, babies. None are ever spared from the Faroese knives.

The blood seeps through the fjord (July 2015). Photo by Mayk Wendt/Sea Shepherd

On 8 May 2017, with the formal support of 27 Members of the European Parliament, Sea Shepherd Netherlands officially submitted a complaint to the European Commission, requesting infringement proceedings against Denmark for facilitating the slaughter of pilot whales and other cetaceans in the Faroe Islands. It is up to the European Commission to ensure that Denmark is brought to justice. Sea Shepherd has given the European Commission all the proof needed to make that happen. 


The sea runs red at Bøur with the blood of slaughtered pilot whales (August 2015). Photo: Eliza Muirhead
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