A pod of 11 pilot whales has been slaughtered on in the sixth drive hunt – or grindadráp – of the season.
Conservationist said today that 501 pilot whales have so far been slaughtered this year in the northern archipelago.
While the Faroese authorities say the slaughter is quick, Sea Shepherd campaigners refute the claims and describe the whales’ deaths as “slow and torturous”.
Rosie Kunneke, Sea Shepherd land team leader during its latest pilot whale defence campaign, said: “For an hour and a half these pilot whales were harassed by small boats, driven into the killing beach, hooked by their blowholes, dragged onto the rocks and sand and then slaughtered in the presence of their family members.
“Video and photographs captured by Sea Shepherd earlier this year clearly show the truth of the grindadráp. It is a slow and torturous death. To claim otherwise is a totally outrageous sham.”
Throughout the summer, the Faroese whale drives shocked animal campaigners and led to award-winning actor Martin Sheen writing to the Danish prime minister to criticise its support for the “grinds” by sending in naval vessels against demonstrators.
“I am surprised that a nation that has such a wonderful record of positive social and environmental policies would support an annual massacre of whales for which there is no subsistence need,” he wrote.
“Does it really take a frigate, a patrol boat, commando units and a helicopter along with Danish police officers and a Faroese patrol boat to stop a group of compassionate, non-violent people?”
While grinds usually take place during the summer, they can be called any time of the yeart as Captain Alex Cornelissen, chief executive of Sea Shepherd Global, explained today: “The pilot whale killers are opportunistic hunters and will kill when the chance arises. The only way to ensure that these animals are completely protected is for the grindadráp to be outlawed for good.”
Sea Shepherd campaigners say although they have departed from the islands for this year, they are pledged to continue pressure against the grind, which has seen them presenting their position on the slaughter of pilot whales to members of the Danish parliament.
The campaigners say Denmark has international legal responsibilities to protect pilot whales and to prohibit their intentional killing.
Captain Cornelissen explained: “We will ensure that the world cannot ignore the horrors that continue to occur in the Faroe Islands, and that Denmark is held to account for its criminal collusion in these bloody massacres.”
During the summer, the Faorese authorities explained to the Express the reasons behind the pilot whale hunts, describing them as “sustainable and regulated, communal and natural”.
Faroese officials gave the following comment:
“The pilot whale catch is a community-based activity as it has always been, and the meat and blubber is divided fairly according to traditional customs among the participants.
“The pilot whale is not an endangered species. Scientists estimate that the pilot whale population inthe eastern North Atlantic is about 778,000 whales, with approximately 100,000 around the Faroe Islands.
The Faroese hunt on average 800 pilot whales annually.“Whale catches in the Faroe Islands are conducted in accordance with international law and globally recognised principles of sustainable development. Catches are sustainable and fully regulated by national laws and regulations, with a strong emphasis on animal welfare, and a requirement today for participants to be licenced to use the mandatory methods and equipment.
“Whale drives only take place in bays that are officially approved for the purpose, and only schools of whales found in close proximity to land, usually within one nautical mile, are driven ashore. The law explicitly states that the hunt is to be conducted in such a way as to cause as little suffering to the whales as possible.“When the whales have beached themselves, they are killed. It takes a few seconds to kill each whale, and the entire pod is normally killed in less than ten minutes.
The use of a spinal lance, designed by a Faroese veterinarian, ensures that the whales lose consciousness and die within a few seconds. The lance is inserted once through the animal’s neck to break its spinal cord.“The pilot whale hunt is dramatic and bloody by its nature.
Entire pods of whales are killed on shores and in shallow bays at open sight. Naturally, this results in a lot of blood in the water.”
This article was first published by The Express on 01 Dec 2015.
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