What we’re doing at Animal Friends to help end the mass slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins close to home, how you can get involved and help and why this unnecessary loss of life should stop.
We are supporting calls to end the slaughter of dolphins and pilot whales in the Faroe Islands:
- Whales and dolphins are intelligent and experience many of the same feelings as human beingsi
- These hunts are not necessary or beneficial to the community or environment
- These animals help to protect the environment and prevent climate change
- We can educate tourists on the harm done by consuming whale meat abroad and help offer alternative whale experiences that help support local communities
Whaling in the Faroes
One year after a review was promised by the Faroese Government after the slaughter of 1,423 dolphins just 200 miles off the coast of Scotland, the mass hunting of these creatures in the Faroe Islands continues. During 2022 we have seen further tragedy with hundreds more pilot whales and dolphins killed.
The Faroese maintain that the hunt is a sustainable practice and an important cultural tradition. They say that pilot whales are a natural resource, which they ‘harvest’ with hooks, ropes and mønustingari (a Faroese knife designed to cut through whales’ spines).
It typically takes place between July and September although it can happen at any time, at any one of the 26 designated killing bays around the islands.
Some of the slaughtered animals are then turned in to meat for consumption, often by tourists despite warnings of the health risks highlighted by the Faroese public health administration.ii
High levels of mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), released by industries into the environment, end up in the whale meat which can in turn affect humans' intellectual and neurological development and weaken their immune systems.
Why should it stop?
Whales and dolphins are amazing, fascinating, and intelligent beings. Science has shown that many species are both sentient and sapient meaning they exhibit complex social behaviour, and they can experience emotions such as empathy.
As the world looks for ways where we can have a positive impact on the environment, there is already one solution swimming in our seas, but they are under threat from hunts like these.
“Whales play an amazing role that keeps every creature on Earth alive. Whales are our allies in fighting climate change and the climate crisis. Our underwater allies are contributing to as much carbon capture as all the rainforests on land. They are like giant, swimming Amazons, supporting our marine ecosystem. Planet Earth needs a healthy ocean. And a healthy ocean needs whales.”
- Whale and Dolphin Conservation
Although commercial whaling is banned in the Faroe Islands, this whale meat is still sold to tourists who are often unaware of the cruel practice. Many other nations have moved towards whale-watching as an experience for tourists that can continue to support local communities with a sustainable income.
What can the UK do?
After pressure mounted globally in 2021, The Faroese review set an official kill-quota of 500 dolphins per year (rising to 825). Excluding 2021, this quota of 500 dolphins a year far exceeds the number of dolphins killed in any recent year (around double the 10-year average).
It is clear the review has not done enough to protect dolphins and whales, this practice is still happening today not too far from our own shores.
The government recently stated that they “continue to call on all whaling nations, including the Faroe Islands, at every appropriate opportunity to cease their whaling activities.”
As of 2019, the UK accounted for 10% of Faroese exports globally, although since the trade deal has gone through it is likely that this number is even higher. This relationship gives a fantastic chance for the government to make good on their promise to urge the Faroes to stop these hunts.
Animal Friends Insurance is working alongside Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) to try and bring about the end of this practice across the globe, including in the Faroe Islands.
In recent years we have worked with the WDC as founding members of their Climate Giant project, given our support to help end whaling in Norway, and driven visibility of the plight of Narwhals – yet another species at risk due to human activities. Over the last three years we have donated over £155,000 to WDC to champion and support the amazing work they do to help save both whales and dolphins but ultimately our planet.
We want you to join us in this fight, you can use your voice to keep this important issue front and centre of debates in the UK Government. To do this:
- How intelligent are whales and dolphins? - Whale and Dolphin Conservation
- Pilot whale meat poses health hazard, Faroese warned (phys.org)
- Faroes PM pledges dolphin hunt review amid outcry at carnage | Faroe Islands | The Guardian
- Short-finned pilot whale - Whale and Dolphin Conservation (whales.org)
- Thank a Whale for Every (Other) Breath You Take | Defenders of Wildlife
- Suspend trade agreement with Faroe Islands until all whale & dolphin hunts end - Petitions (parliament.uk)