The government of the Faroe Islands is reviewing the country’s annual dolphin-and-whale hunt.
According to representatives of the administrative body, no decision has yet been made and several options are being considered. A final decision on the future of this hunt is expected in the coming weeks, they added.
The Faroes are a pretty tiny archipelago to the north of the United Kingdom. Politically, they are an autonomous territory, part of the Kingdom of Denmark, much like Greenland. And, for the longest time now, it has maintained the custom of the “grindadráp”, or “grind” for short.
During grindadrap, fishermen seek out groups of dolphins or pilot whales and surround them with a semi-circle of fishing boats. The animals are then driven into a shallow bay, where they are subsequently beached. Fishermen on shore then slaughter the animals, which are now easy pickings.
Last year’s grind, which took place on September 12, 2021, occured on a much larger scale than any previously. The event, which saw the slaughter of more than 1,400 Atlantic white-side dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) sparked quite a wave of international outrage. Following that event, the country’s Prime Minister Bardur a Steig Nielsen ordered an official re-evaluation of the hunt.
That re-evaluation is now complete. The government discussed its conclusion at a meeting in Torshavn on Tuesday. Despite the public interest in this topic, no decision seems to have been reached just yet.
“It was a first meeting. No decisions were taken,” an official in the prime minister’s office told Agence France Presse, adding that “several options” are on the table, with a final decision expected “in a few weeks”.
A petition with almost 1.3 million signatures calling for a ban on the hunt was also submitted to the Faroe government on Monday, adding further pressure on lawmakers to come to a decision.
That being said, the hunt still enjoys wide support in the Faroes. It is part of local tradition, and this hunt has been a vital food source for local communities historically. It is very unlikely that all the customs surrounding the grind will be banned; the government explained that only the hunt is currently under review, not the whole tradition.