Water Turns Red as Animal Rights Activists Bemoan Indiscriminate Killings of Whales in Faroe Islands

Animal rights activists are claiming that up to 50 whales have been hacked to death after they were driven ashore by whale hunters in the Faroe Islands.
According to the activists, the whales were killed as part of the first hunt of the annual whaling season on the Islands. Whale hunting is not new on the Islands. It is a centuries-long tradition, attracting fierce protests from animal rights groups in the past. The type of whale suffering at the hands of the Islanders is known as the pilot whale.
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The pilot whale is about 5 meters long. The mammals are chased with boats until they reach shallow waters, unable to move again. The Islanders, armed with hooks, halberds, knives and lances will then rush to kill them. The whales are killed when the lancers cut their spine, severing their arteries, flooding the water with blood and covering the hunters head to toe in scarlet.
Local media on the Islands report that the hunt is known as grindadrap. RT English News reports that the hunt is not a commercial venture. It is said any islander who has passed a course in whale hunting is eligible to participate in the annual event of killing these whales.
In August 2015, researchers estimated that the pilot whale population in the eastern North Atlantic is about 778,000 whales, with approximately 100,000 around the Faroe Islands. It is said the people of Faroe Islands hunt on average 800 pilot whales annually.
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According to a Dutch-based activist group Sea Shepherd, it has spotted many whales being chased by the hunters to the beaches to be killed. The group described the practice as heinous and atrocious. Sea Shepherd has been actively opposing the hunts since the early 1980s.
Sea Shepherd said in a statement on July 6 2016: “The ordeal began this morning when locals spotted a pod of between 100-150 pilot whales passing by Svínoy [one of the smaller islands on the archipelago]. Several boats then drove the pod of whales approximately 11 kilometers to Hvannasund, where the whales were forced to beach, and slaughtered by locals. Faroese media outlets have confirmed between 30-50 pilot whales have been killed.”
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Apart from the claim by Sea Shepherd, local residents themselves posted still and motion images of the killings of the whales on social media. Many people – including children – are seen in the images, watching as men slaughtered the mammals in a very energetic manner.
In order to avoid dispute among locals, it is said the carcasses are taken to a particular place where the meat and blubber are eaten fresh, fried or dry-salted. The remaining will then be distributed among the hunters and other locals.
Sea Shepherd said in past years that they use its sea vessels to protect the whales from the Islanders. This, the group said, provoked clashes sometime ago. The group said it is unable to embark on this exercise because, Denmark, the parent country of the Faroe Islands, has introduced a visa that has restricted access to the Islands.
Sea Shepherd is now calling for boycott of salmon imported from the Islands to mainland Europe. The group believed that this will crumble the economy of the Islands, forcing it to stop the practice.
“These companies raise salmon in the same waters that Pilot whales and dolphins are slaughtered and therefore we have called this year’s campaign Operation Bloody Fjords. The Faroese dolphin butchers have the full weight of the Danish government, police and Navy on their side and although physically prevented from intervention this summer, we can still strike out through legal and economic channels with the message that eating Faroese salmon means killing and eating the Pilot whales,” Sea Shepherd said.
However, the spokesman for the Islands, Pall Nolsoe said a statement that the Islanders have not breached any international law to merit any sanction. He said Sea Shepherd activists are spreading lies about what people living on the Islands are doing.
The statement said: “Whaling is a natural part of Faroese life and pilot whale meat and blubber are a cherished supplement to households across the islands. Whaling in the Faroe Islands is conducted in accordance with international law and globally recognized principles of sustainable development. The illegal and potentially dangerous actions by activists from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, combined with attempts to spread deliberately misleading information continue to be the hallmark of this group’s activities.”

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