Faroese put a cap on dolphin hunting after huge kill in 2021

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The government of the Lesser Faroe Islands is proposing an annual catch limit of 500 white-sided dolphins on an interim basis for 2022 and 2023, after last year killed more than 1,400 dolphins in one day which led to local condemnation and criticism.

Hunting in the North Atlantic islands is part of a four-century-old traditional drive of marine mammals into shallow waters, where they are killed for their meat and blubber. It’s not commercial and it’s allowed, but environmental activists claim it’s cruel. Even Faroese people who uphold the traditional practice feared that the hunt would attract unwanted attention as it was much larger than previous ones and apparently took place without the usual organization.

On Sunday, the government said the cap measure was « in response to unusually large catches » on September 14, 2021. It added that the proposal should be implemented as a decree by July 25.

« Aspects of this capture were unsatisfactory, in particular the unusually high number of dolphins killed, » the government said in a statement. This “is unlikely to be a sustainable harvest level on a long-term annual basis”.

Local media reported that there were too many dolphins and too few people on the beach to kill them, raising fears that the massacre could reignite discussion of sea mammal urges and put a negative spin on the old tradition of the 18 rocky islands located halfway. between Scotland and Iceland. They are semi-independent and part of the Danish kingdom.

Islanders typically kill up to 1,000 marine mammals – mostly pilot whales – each year, according to data kept by the Faroe Islands. In 2020, this only included 35 white-sided dolphins. White-sided dolphins and pilot whales are not endangered species.

Every year, the islanders drive herds of mammals into the shallow waters. A blow hook is used to secure stranded animals, and their spine and main artery leading to the brain are severed with knives. Drives are regulated by law and meat and fat are shared on a community basis.

The Faroese government said it « continues to base its policies and management measures on the right and responsibility of (its) people to use the resources of the sea in a sustainable way ». This also includes marine mammals, such as pilot whales and dolphins.

The Associated Press


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