On July 29th, Faroe Islands slaughtered 100 bottlenose dolphins. This tradition that dates back 1,200 years is causing controversy yet again. Every year the island hunts whales and dolphins and slaughters them at the shore in front of spectators. For some locals, this is a “necessary tradition,” while others think it’s barbaric, unnecessary, and needs to stop.
Last September, over 1,400 white-sided dolphins were slaughtered in the Faroe Islands. This massive killing caused national outrage and led the government to make some changes. What changes, you ask? They limited the killings to 500 dolphins a year. While some think this is good, animal rights activists think more needs to be done. When the islanders slaughtered over 1,400 dolphins last year, they thought it was only a pod of 200. How can we trust them to know the difference between 500 and 1,400?
Tradition or Slaughter?
According to Faroese fisheries minister Árni Skaale, the decision to have an annual hunt quota of 500 is a way to help the country utilize everything sustainably. Since it’s estimated that there are over 80,000 dolphins and whales in North Atlantic, they believe the 500 slaughtered dolphins a year will not make a big impact. If we all thought like this, no mammals wouldn’t be left in the sea.
Sally Hamilton, director of the marine conservation charity Orca, said that the Faroe Islands are not concerned about the outrage they are causing. Instead, “they have become an abattoir for marine mammals.” Previously, we didn’t know how many, if any, dolphins would be killed. Now, we know that at least 500 dolphins will be slaughtered annually. Faroe Islanders are formalizing the hunt and killing of dolphins when there is no market for it.
Perhaps 1,200 years ago, there was a need to hunt dolphins and whales to feed the people and avoid famine. Today, there is no need for the Faroe Islands to slaughter bottlenose dolphins or other mammals. Out of the 99 slaughtered bottlenose dolphins, one was a pregnant female with a calf. While neighboring countries rely of dolphins and whales to bring in tourism, Faroe Islands slaughtered 100 bottlenose dolphins instead. They are ruining their country’s reputation and causing outrage amongst animal activists.