02.09.2014 · The Government

Illegal actions against sustainable whaling in the Faroe Islands will not be tolerated

Recognising the widespread international interest in whales and whaling in general, and the Faroese pilot whale drive in particular, the Government of the Faroes underlines the importance it has always placed on dialogue, freedom of speech and the right of all citizens, both in the Faroes and in all other countries, to express their views openly.

Faroese authorities will not, however, tolerate the disruption of the pilot whale drive in the Faroe Islands, which is a legal, fully regulated and sustainable use of an abundant natural resource. Pilot whales in Faroese waters continue to provide a valued source of food for the people of our marine-dependent nation, as they have done for centuries.

All meat involves the slaughter of animals. But most meat production today in industrialised countries is hidden well away from public view. The Faroese pilot whale drive, by its very nature, takes place in the open, in authorized bays around the Faroes. As such it has been openly documented and discussed internationally for many years as a unique part of the Faroese way of life.

On Saturday 30 August, activists representing the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society attempted to disrupt a whale drive in the bay of Sandur on the island of Sandoy, both on shore and in the water. The police dealt with the situation in a calm and effective manner, quickly averting what could otherwise have become a dangerous situation for the activists themselves, operating in an unfamiliar coastal environment. Their actions could well have disrupted the organised procedures of the whale drive, thus prolonging it. 14 activists were detained and all were released again within 24 hours to face hearings in the Court of the Faroe Islands for breaches of the whaling regulations. Vessels used in the incident have been confiscated, pending further legal proceedings.

The group of 33 whales was beached at Sandur and killed swiftly in accordance with the regulations. The meat and blubber was shared free to the local residents and participants in the drive, as is the custom. The pilot whale drive in the Faroe Islands is one of the best documented uses of a renewable natural resource anywhere in the world, with annual records of catches dating back to 1584 and a long-term average take of around 800 whales a year, from a population estimated by international scientists to number 128,000 in the Faroe-Iceland survey area.

Illegal and potentially dangerous actions by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, combined with attempts to spread deliberately misleading information to the media, have been the hallmark of the activities of this group for decades. They have repeatedly and aggressively targeted not only the Faroes, but many other countries and communities who depend on the sustainable use of resources from the sea. Of perhaps greatest concern is this group’s complete lack of respect for the rights of nations and peoples around the world to utilise their natural resources in a sustainable way, as recognized under international law and in UN declarations and resolutions.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has long since been banned from participating in meetings of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Their reckless conduct in the Southern Ocean has prompted a number of resolutions adopted by all member states of IWC over the years, including Denmark, condemning actions that are a risk to human life and property in relation to the activities of vessels at sea. Any dialogue with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has long since been made impossible by the illegal and confrontational actions and behavior of their representatives.

The Government of the Faroes will continue to promote openness, factual information and rational and informed discussion about whales and whaling in the Faroe Islands. Anyone with an interest should be assured a reliable and factual basis from which to form his or her views on the place of the pilot whale drive in Faroese society today.

• More information is available on the website www.whaling.fo.

Contact: Páll Nolsøe, advisor ;palln@tinganes.fo or +298 551028