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Atlantic white-sided dolphin massacre 12th September 2021
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Faroe Islands – out of sight but not out of mind

We have been working to end the pilot whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands for many years, but the killing of at least 1,428 Atlantic white-sided dolphins on the 12thSeptember marked a new low and many Faroese people were appalled too. As media attention has faded, I wanted to assure you that we haven’t forgotten and are still working hard to ensure that a slaughter like this never happens again.

Atlantic white-sided dolphins on beach faroes WDC

Your donation will help us fight to stop this senseless slaughter for good.

Review promised

Within days of the massacre, Bárður á Steig Nielsen, the prime minister of the Faroe Islands, announced that there would be a ‘review of the dolphin hunts and the part they played in Faroese society’. More than two months have passed since that announcement and we’re still waiting to hear of any developments.

In light of this, we have ramped up our campaigning and are working both openly and behind the scenes to push the Faroese government to make good on their promise, and importantly to ensure that the review, when it happens, is transparent, collaborative and based on the best available science.

Working together

The disgraceful dolphin slaughter rightly triggered global outrage and we wanted to help ensure people’s voices are heard. So we partnered with Sea Legacy and Only One on a petition calling on Mr Nielsen to deliver on the promised review. We’ve also teamed up with Avaaz to reach even more people and collectively we will represent well over a million global citizens when we present our two petitions together to Mr Nielsen soon.

Beautiful Atlantic white-sided dolphin mum and baby I encountered in Scotland
Beautiful Atlantic white-sided dolphin mum and baby I encountered in Scotland

Pressure points

It’s also important for us to apply sustained pressure on the Faroese government through international political channels, such as via the UK government and the EU Commission and also through global conservation bodies including the Convention on Migratory Species (CITES) and the International Whaling Commission (IWC). We are using our influence and authority to push for an unbiased review to be undertaken immediately and until such time, for all dolphin hunts to cease.

Alongside this, we’re looking at the most effective way to put economic pressure on the Faroese government by addressing the sale of fish (and other marine wildlife such as lobsters and crabs) from the Faroes and asking supermarkets and other retailers to audit their supply chains and apply pressure through their Faroese suppliers.

Changing attitudes

Real long-term change needs to come from within the Faroe Islands so we’ve been working to identify local support, including sympathetic politicians and influencers. Immediately after the massacre on the 12th September about 15% of the Faroese population responded to an online poll, with 58% of Faroese people in favour of disallowing any further hunts of dolphins, 33% believing dolphin hunting should continue and 9% unsure. Another poll was undertaken by a more conservative media outlet. To the question ‘should we keep killing dolphins?’ 63% said ‘no’, 32% responded ‘yes’ and 3% were undecided. We’re certain that if we can increase awareness among Faroese people of the multitude of reasons why it’s time for the dolphin hunts to stop, support for ending them will increase.

Never again

The senseless and unnecessary slaughter of more than 1,400 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, including pregnant mothers, calves and juveniles, was devastating and tragic, but I believe it will be the pivotal moment in changing attitudes and practices in the Faroe Islands for good.

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About Nicola Hodgins

Policy Manager at WDC

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