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Tilikum, the father of Nakai. © Paul Wigmore

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Faroese Prime Minister claims whale hunt is regulated

The Faroese Prime Minister, Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen, has claimed that whaling in the islands is “sustainable and fully-regulated” in a statement issued in response to recent criticism of the continued hunting of pilot whales. He goes on to say that the hunt is a natural part of Faroes life that has being going on for hundreds of years, providing meat and blubber to supplement the diet.

In a recent hunt on June 6th, an estimated 150 whales were killed. As well as pilot whales, atlantic white-sided, Risso’s and bottlenose dolphins are also hunted along with stranded northern bottlenose whales. Total numbers killed varies from year to year; in 2013 over 1100 pilot whales and 430 white-sided dolphins died.

Mr Johannesen went on to ask Faroese to respect the right of visitors to lawfully protest against the hunts stating that “…freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest, which are fundamental parts of any democracy.”

WDC notes that the Prime Minister’s statement fails to make any mention of the ongoing concerns about the health implications of eating whale meat in the islands, which is known to carry high levels of mercury and persistent organic compounds. Long-term independent studies have shown children of mothers who eat whale meat can suffer neurological, cardiovascular and other developmental problems. In 2012, in a report by the Director of the Farose Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, it was recommended that pilot whale meat should no longer be consumed on health grounds.

More on whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.