18.09.2014 · The Government

Sea Shepherd activists arrested for disturbing a group of dolphins near Tórshavn

Sea Shepherd activists arrested for disturbing a group of dolphins near Tórshavn

A group of white sided dolphins was spotted off the village of Hvítanes, near the capital of Tórshavn yesterday afternoon.

Due to the prevailing conditions, the district administrator responsible for whale and dolphin drives in the area decided that the dolphins should be left alone.

Despite this, three Sea Shepherd activists in a speedboat persisted in steering their vessel at considerable speed around the dolphins and through the group, causing unnecessary distress to the animals.

When the police arrived on the scene the activists sped away at great speed, refusing to obey police orders to stop.

The activists were eventually detained and charged with breaching Faroese animal welfare legislation and refusing to follow police orders.

Their vessel was not withheld and all three activists were released shortly after questioning and have been ordered to pay fines.

White-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) are a commonly occurring and abundant species around the Faroe Islands and as such they are not protected.

Individual animals occasionally occur together with schools of pilot whales, while separate schools are also sometimes driven and beached, like pilot whale, and fully utilised for human consumption.

The driving and killing of dolphins in the Faroe Islands must be carried out according to the same regulations which apply to pilot whales.

In addition to white sided dolphins, bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) are also common in Faroese waters, and may be caught for food according to the relevant regulations.

The Scientific Committee of NAMMCO (the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission) has been requested to provide a comprehensive assessment of this species in the North Atlantic.

The emphasis is on analysing results from sightings surveys as a basis for establishing abundance estimates for the stocks, to coordinate research efforts between countries in order to fill identified information gaps, in particular taking advantage of the sampling opportunities provided by Faroese catches, as well as dedicated samples in other areas.

Research on dolphins and porpoises in the Faroes includes sampling of life history parameters (e.g. reproduction and demography) and feeding ecology.

Satellite tracking was also carried out on two small groups of white sided dolphins in 2009 and one harbour porpoise in 2008 to monitor movement and distribution, and to contribute data for use in comprehensive assessments of the stocks.