There have been reports that tourists who do not report that they have seen pilot whales face a fine of DKK 25,000 – and may even be sentenced to 2 years in prison. The Government of the Faroe Islands would like to provide the following information to clarify the situation. The legislation on catching pilot whales – Grindalógin – contains a provision on the requirement to notify the authorities when pilot whales are located.
The reasoning behind this provision is that the first phase of catching pilot whales is to locate and identify them. A whale drive may only take place with the permission of the authorities. The provision is intended to ensure that the authorities are notified, so they are able to grant or deny permission for the drive.
The important issue is the ancient Faroese concept at finna eina grind (to find pilot whales) and its definition. To find pilot whales, i.e. to locate them, is the first step of a drive. The obligation to report a sighting is therefore a necessary and crucial part of the activity. The intent of the provision is to prevent people taking the law into their own hands or to interfere illegally in a whale drive, for example by driving whales either towards land or to sea without permission from the local authorities.
It is therefore highly unlikely that an ordinary tourist, who has sighted pilot whales will be punished for not reporting this. It is also worth noting, that the whales are typically not located by people on shore, but at sea. In relation to custodial sentences it should be clarified that while the maximum penalty for breaching the Grindalógin is 2 years, the typical penalty will be a fine. The penalty of 2 years in prison may apply where the breach is intentional or due to gross negligence and has led to injury to people or whales, or damage to the environment or material property – or where there was immediate danger of such injury or damage. The penalty of 2 years in prison may also apply where the person in question has previously been convicted of breaching the Grindalógin.
This statement has been updated on July 2nd 2015
Contact Páll Nolsøe, communication advisor, for more information: tel. +298 551028, firstname.lastname@example.org