- third whale catch of the year in the Faroe Islands is welcome food for local households
A school of 112 pilot whales was driven ashore and killed for food on Thursday 23 July in the village of Bøur on the island of Vágar in the Faroe Islands.
This was the third such catch this year, after two other whale drives so far in 2015, the first in Miðvágur on 6 June with a catch of 154 pilot whales and the second in Hvannasund on 29 June, with a catch of 22 pilot whales. In 2014, only two pilot whale drives took place, with a total of 48 pilot whales taken in total. The long-term average catch in the Faroe Islands, with local records dating back to 1600, is around 800 small whales, mostly pilot whales, per year. The internationally recognized scientific estimate of the pilot whale population in the Northeast Atlantic is 778,000.
According to the local district administrator for Vágar, who, together with his counterparts in other whaling districts around the Faroes, is responsible in his local area for the coordination and overall supervision of pilot whaling, the driving, beaching and killing in Bøur went smoothly and swiftly in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations. As is the custom, the meat and blubber of the whales will be shared among the participants in the whale drive. After assessing and marking the individual whales in the catch, the district administrator makes a detailed calculation of the shares, which he announces publically and allocates to the recipients as soon as possible after the actual catch.
In the Faroe Islands, catches of pilot whales, as well as occasional catches of a few other abundant small cetacean species, have long been an integral part of the local and sustainable community-based use of renewable natural resources for food. Whaling in the Faroe Islands is conducted in accordance with international law and globally recognized principles of sustainable development. It is sustainable and fully regulated, 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.
In 2015, the Faroe Islands are once again taking part in the North Atlantic Sightings Survey (NASS) for cetaceans with a ship-based survey, which began in early July and will continue until early August. The main focus in the Faroese contribution to this regular international scientific survey will be on counting pilot whales, but all whale species sighted in the Faroese area will be documented. For more details, see the website of the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission, which is coordinating NASS 2015: www.nammco.no.
In connection with the latest whale drive in Bøur, the police arrested four foreign anti-whaling activists, who will be charged with breaches of the law on pilot whaling, having attempted to disrupt a legal activity in the Faroe Islands.
Since the information above was released on Thursday evening, a further catch of pilot whales has taken place at the authorized whaling bay of Sandagerði in the capital, Tórshavn. The school, which consisted of 142 pilot whales in total, was sighted close to shore between the islands of Nólsoy and Streymoy, and driven and killed just before midnight on Thursday. The district administrator for whale drives in Tórshavn announced the shares on Friday morning, which were divided among those who took part in the driving and killing.
In connection with the drive in Tórshavn, another anti-whaling activist was arrested for breaching the pilot whaling law.
Pilot whale catches in the Faroe Islands 2015
(as per 24 July)
No. of pilot whales
More information on whales and whaling in the Faroe Islands is available at: www.whaling.fo.
Contact Páll Holm Johannesen, communication advisor, for more information: tel. +298 551040, firstname.lastname@example.org