Whales are sensitive, social animals with highly developed nervous systems. They have a profound capacity to suffer distress, terror and pain. Each year, the Faroese kill pilot whales and other small cetaceans.
Islanders in motorboats first drive the whales into a bay. The chase may be lengthy. The exhausted, terrified and confused whales are eventually driven into the shallows. Here the bloodbath begins. The islanders repeatedly hammer 2.2 kg metal gaffs into the living flesh of each whale until the hooks hold. A 15 cm knife is then used to slash through the blubber and flesh to the spinal column. Next the main blood vessels are severed. The blood-stained bay is soon filled with horribly mutilated and dying whales.
The Faroese celebrate the butchery of their victims in an carnival atmosphere of entertainment. Indoctrinated from an early age, children are often given a day off school to watch the fun. They run down to the bay and clamber over the carcasses of slaughtered whales.
Every year around 2,000 whales are driven ashore and cruelly slaughtered in the Faroe Islands, mid-way between the Shetland Islands and Iceland. For centuries the Faroe Islanders have hunted pilot whales, driving entire schools into killing bays, where they are speared or gaffed from boats, dragged ashore and butchered with knives. Although the Islands are a protectorate of Denmark, they have their own Government and regulations governing the pilot whale hunt or "grind" as it is known.
Aside from the fact that the number of North Atlantic long-finned pilot whales is unknown and they are listed as 'strictly protected' by the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, this is an act of barbarism and pointlessness. By slaughtering 100 whales at a time, the Faroese are wiping out entire pods and family groups. They are removing building blocks from the gene pool of the species and damaging the web of life in the North Atlantic and the North Sea.
The drive hunt is a practice abandoned elsewhere many decades ago, and now outlawed by other European states. The inhabitants of the Faroe Islands have no subsistence need for whale meat, and much of the flesh is left to rot and be dumped; it cannot be exported, as it is polluted with heavy metals and other toxins and therefore cannot meet EU heath standards for human food.
According to Faroese legislation it is also permitted to hunt certain species of small cetaceans other than pilot whales. These include: Bottlenose dolphin; Atlantic white-beaked dolphin; Atlantic white-sided dolphin; and Harbour porpoise (There are also specific regulations for the hunting of harbour porpoise. Harbour porpoises are killed with shotguns).
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