22nd November 2011
Campaign Whale today expressed shock and dismay at the brutal killing of a further 81 pilot whales at Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands.
Fishermen in dozens of boats drove a ‘super pod’ estimated at around a 1,000 pilot whales into a bay close to Torshavn. There the brutal slaughter began and 81 whales were hacked to death in front of a large crowd of onlookers.
In just the past six days, three whale hunts have taken place on the Faroes with 148 whales cruelly slaughtered. This year alone, a staggering total of 723 pilot whales have been killed, on top of over a 1,000 pilot whales and 35 dolphins killed last year.
In a letter sent to the Faroese Government on October 7th a coalition of anti-whaling groups, led by Campaign Whale, condemned the escalation in whaling and dismissed public health and whale hunt guidelines issued by the Faroese Government earlier this year as totally inadequate. The coalition called for the immediate suspension of all whale and dolphin hunting on conservation, animal welfare and human health grounds.
Campaign Whale Director Andy Ottaway and other members of the coalition visited the Faroe Islands in May of this year, meeting with representatives from the Ministries of Fisheries, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Environment, Department of Public Health, as well as the Chief Veterinary Officer and the Chair of the Pilot Whalers Association.
Since then, the Faroese Government has issued new guidelines relating to the public health risks associated with consuming pilot whales, which are sadly dangerously contaminated with toxic pollutants such as mercury and PCBs, known to cause a number of serious health problems.
The coalition also accused the Government of failing to implement any meaningful changes to hunting methods to reduce the appalling cruelty inflicted upon social and intelligent animals, which are chased to exhaustion, and then suffer terrible injuries, sometimes over several hours. The hunters kill mothers and babies too.
In 2008, Faroese Health Officers issued a public statement saying that pilot whales were no longer safe to eat at all. However, the Faroese Government contradicted this advice in June 2011 by suggesting that people limit their consumption rather than avoid it altogether. This appears to be fuelling this latest escalation in whaling.
However, even the Government’s new health guidelines cannot justify the numbers of whales being killed, which is producing whale products in quantities far in excess of what the public can safely consume.
Further concerns were raised over the Faroese Government’s claims that the whale hunts are sustainable, given that existing population estimates for pilot whales are over 20 years old. These animals also face mounting and serious threats to their survival from climate change, toxic pollution, over-fishing, entanglement in fishing gears, increasing ocean noise and military sonar, ship strikes, habitat loss and degradation.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Andy Ottaway of Campaign Whale said, ‘We are pleased to continue an open dialogue with the Faroese Government and people over whaling. However, we cannot accept this appalling escalation in cruelty inflicted upon such intelligent social creatures. We don’t believe that any cultural tradition can take precedence over the serious public health, conservation and, animal welfare issues that need to be addressed. We hope that our concerns will be heard by the Government and people of the Faroes and that all whaling will be suspended in order to protect both the whales and the people that eat them.’