Faroe Islands to limit dolphin hunt quota to 500

The Faroe Islands, a Danish autonomous territory, said Sunday it would provisionally limit its controversial dolphin hunt to 500, following public outcry over the practice.

An aerial view near Sandavagur in the Faroe Islands
An aerial view taken on October 12, 2021 near Sandavagur on Vagar Island, in the Faroe Islands, where the Faroese dolphin-hunting tradition of 'grindadrap" remains popular. Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

“An annual catch limit of 500 white-sided dolphins has now been proposed by the Ministry of Fisheries on a provisional basis for 2022 and 2023,” the government of the Danish autonomous territory said.

The quota was set after the “unusually large catch” of 1,423 white-sided dolphins in September last year, it said in a statement.

“Aspects of that catch were not satisfactory, in particular the unusually large number of dolphins killed,” it added.

“This made procedures difficult to manage and is unlikely to be a sustainable level of catch on a long-term annual basis.”

A review of the practice was launched in February, after a petition with almost 1.3 million signatures calling for a ban on the traditional hunt was submitted to the Faroese government.

In the Faroese tradition known as “grindadrap”, or “grind” for short, hunters surround dolphins or pilot whales with a wide semi-circle of fishing boats and drive them into a shallow bay where they are beached.

Fishermen on shore slaughter them with knives.

Every summer, images of the bloody hunt make headlines around the world and spark outrage among animal rights activists who consider the practice barbaric.

But the hunt still enjoys broad backing in the Faroes, where supporters point out that the animals have fed the local population for centuries.

On Sunday, the government stressed that the catches serve as an “important supplement to the livelihoods of Faroe Islanders”.

“The utilisation of both pilot whales and white-sided dolphins in the Faroe Islands is sustainable,” it added.

Given current stocks, the government said an annual quota of around 825 dolphins would be “well within sustainable limits”, but has recommended 500 as a provisional limit.

It added that it was waiting for an opinion from the Scientific Committee of the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission, expected in by 2024, after which it would review the provisional quota.

It said it would also evaluate the procedures used to drive and kill the dolphins so that it would “be carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible”.

Only the dolphin hunt is currently being reviewed, not the entire “grind” tradition.

READ ALSO: Why mass dolphin slaughter could catalyse change to Faroe Islands tradition

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Denmark to ‘close surveillance gap’ with new Faroe Islands radar

Denmark and the Faroe Islands announced on Thursday installation of a new radar which they said would improve surveillance coverage of Faroese airspace.

Denmark to 'close surveillance gap' with new Faroe Islands radar

Danish Minister of Defence Morten Bødskov signed an agreement over the air warning radar with Faroese counterpart Jenis av Rana during a visit to the Faroe Islands, an autonomous territory of Denmark, on Thursday.

“We are looking at a forthcoming time with increased activity. Much of the Russian military is currently concentrated on Ukraine, but there is no doubt that we will see increased activity in our region,” Bødskov said.

A previous radar installation on the Faroe Islands was removed in 2007, leaving a gap in radar coverage in the territory’s airspace.

The new radar is expected to be located at Sornfelli, a site where a radar has previously stood. It is expected to take five years to install.

Defence alliance Nato currently does not have a full picture of flight traffic from the northern part of Great Britain towards the Faroe Islands, Iceland and southern parts of Greenland.

“There has been a gap, and it must be closed. The new security situation in Europe is also an important reason for it becoming more relevant to close that gap,” Bødskov earlier said in reference to the war in Ukraine.

The radar is part of an Arctic spending plan passed by the Danish parliament in February. That agreement required Faroese permission for the radar to be built.

Several politicians in the Faroe Islands’ Lagtinget parliament have however accused Copenhagen of making the decision without them.

That resulted in extensive Faroese discussion of the matter before Bødskov was eventually given the go-ahead.