The recent mass killing of nearly 1,500 dolphins in the remote Faroe Islands has reignited a longstanding controversy surrounding a centuries-old tradition that environmentalists denounce as inhumane.
Hunters used speedboats and water scooters to drive the pod of white-sided dolphins into the largest fjord in the North Atlantic territory, where they were corralled into shallow waters and slaughtered. While many locals defend the hunt as a vital traditional practice, with the meat and blubber shared among the community in the semi-independent Danish territory located between Scotland and Iceland, the scale of this year's hunt, believed to be the largest in Faroese history, may be too much to sustain the population of around 50,000.
The Sea Shepherd conservation group, which has campaigned against the Faroese "Grind" hunt since the 1980s, explained that there is now an excess of dolphin meat from this hunt, which the participants and locals in the area do not wish to consume. As a result, they are offering the dolphin meat to other districts in the hope of avoiding waste.
The chairman of the Faroese Whalers Association, Olavur Sjurdarberg, admitted that the hunters had underestimated the size of the pod and only realized their mistake when they began the killings. This miscalculation has led to widespread shock and concern among the local population.
Whale and dolphin meat is considered an integral part of Faroese food culture and history, dating back to the islands' initial settlement. However, even those who support the practice are worried that this year's hunt will attract unwanted international attention.
The mass killing of white-sided dolphins is legal but deeply unpopular, and the scale of this year's hunt has outraged many Faroese citizens, according to Sjurdur Skaale, a Danish lawmaker for the Faroe Islands. The hunt closely approaches the Japanese government's quota for the entire six-month capture and killing season in Taiji, Japan, a location that gained global infamy following the release of the documentary "The Cove" in 2009. Japan is another country criticized by environmentalists for its whale hunting practices.
The Faroese dolphin hunt gained international attention through the "Seaspiracy" documentary on Netflix earlier this year. Alex Cornelissen, the CEO of Sea Shepherd, which campaigns against whaling worldwide, condemned the scale of the Faroese hunt, especially considering the current global pandemic, emphasizing the importance of living in harmony with nature rather than wiping it out.