Dolphin Massacre in the Faroe Islands

Claire Serraz ‘20, Contributing Writer

Grindadráp is a food tradition practiced in the Faroe Islands (Denmark) since centuries. It consists of killing about 800 cetaceans (marine mammals) a year, mostly the pilot whales, which are marine mammals known for their sociability. It is on this solidarity that the inhabitants of the archipelago base themselves to kill them, because even in case of danger, the pilot whales never separate. These dolphins are first folded off to the beach by boats and then killed on the beach with knives. A lot of people are involved in these massacres, including children and tourists. Despite all the reasons people have for practicing this massacre, I strongly oppose it. In my mind, this killing act is immoral, useless and dangerous. I’m here today to tell you why.

The inhabitants justify this act by the tradition and the force of the habit. Initially, these massacres served to feed the population of Faroe Islands, where it is very hard to cultivate. Nowadays, the archipelago is extremely rick, and imports a lot of food. It’s a fact, people do not need the flesh of cetaceans anymore to survive. And even if it was not the case, even if the inhabitants would only eat this meat, it has been proved several times that every year they kill more dolphins than they’re able to eat. That’s why I believe this act of killing is useless and immoral. How is a human-being able to take pleasure in killing a dolphin for nothing? Try to watch videos of these massacres, hear the moans of animals, see the water turn red, it’s not a pleasant thing to see. So, participating in the massacre? How do we keep living after this?

I was horrified to see children participating in the killings. Parents justify this by saying it is important to show them their culture in order to make it last. I think it is really dangerous to teach young children how to handle a knife, and how to kill without feeling, because the more you are young, the more you are unconscious and irresponsible, and if a child is able to kill a dolphin, then he is totally able to do the same to other animals, even to humans. I also don’t understand why tourists participate, as they don’t eat this meat. They just want to “understand” the culture, but I’m not sure they understood it after the massacre. What are they really getting out of it?

Another reason to justify this act of killing is the entertainment. The Faroese writer Joan Paul Joensen states, “whether it is a sport or not, in the sense that we usually hear it, there is no doubt that the Grindadráp is real source of excitement and an opportunity to meet in an otherwise monotonous existence”. I was happily surprised to learn that a lot of inhabitants in these islands share my point of view, that it would be more entertaining to develop cetacean sighting rather than killing them. For many environmental associations, the Grindadráp seems to be a kind of entertainment under cultural cover but without any legitimacy in terms of food resources.

If you’re not convinced yet, let me tell you about the consequences on health. The meat of pilot whales is not recommended by doctors since it is polluted by the components of the ocean. Indeed, in the North Atlantic, the pilot whale is at the top of the food chain and stores a lot of pollutants and heavy metals in its body. A part of the Faroese population suffers from nervous disorder as doctors have observed deficits in concentration, memory, and speech disorders in young children whose mothers have been exposed to oral contamination of a metal found in the flesh of pilot whales.

   Now that you’re upset, horrified by these massacres, it’s time to act. How will you react after reading this article? I’m not asking you to join Sea Sherpherd, who is fighting against the Grindadráp, even if I think it would be an amazing idea. You may want to know that the pilot whale, although not endangered, is protected by the Berne Convention, which has been signed by the EU and 44 other countries. This makes illegal to kill this species almost everywhere, except in the Faroe Islands and three other north countries. Now, we have to fight all together to make the Grindadráp illegal everywhere in the world, including in the Faroe Islands. Sea Sherpherd tried to fight several on the Faroe Islands, by sending boats in charge to keep the pilot whales away from the islands. But the Danish navy sent boats and proceeded to arrest opponents. What does it make you think about? How do you feel about it? If we all fight together, if we all protest, if we all boycott the Faroe Islands, we can do it. Tweet about it, talk about it. Don’t go there. They can oppose Sea Sherpherd, they can oppose the Berne Convention. But if their tourism dies, they have lost everything and will be forced to listen to us.