Representatives from the Stop the Grind Coalition are in Slovenia this week to make the case for the protection of small cetaceans – such as pilot whales and other dolphins – to the delegates of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) conference.
Why should the IWC be concerned about small cetaceans when their mandate is the “conservation of whales and management of whaling”? Can the IWC really help bring an end to the killing of pilot whales and dolphins in the Faroe Islands?
As the only international organization dedicated to whales, IWC is uniquely positioned to ensure the conservation of all cetacean populations. Its delegates and other participating parties, including scientists and NGOs, are already aware of the importance cetaceans play in the health of the planet’s ecosystem and the mitigation of climate change, as well as the many threats to their populations.
The Stop the Grind Coalition aims to bring an end to the slaughter of dolphins and pilot whales in the Faroe Islands on the grounds of animal welfare, sustainability, and human health.
The pilot whales and other dolphins killed in the grinds are subjected to extensive torment and suffering before their deaths. - Grinds are drive hunts that often entail hours of chasing the pods with motorboats and jetskis, exhausting and stressing the animals before they’re beached and killed - Many images show animals have been mutilated by propellers while being chased - Footage of the 1428 dolphins slaughtered in September 2021 showed many animals still moving and struggling to survive after being lanced and thrown onto the beach. - Investigations have shown that anyone can easily get a permit to kill dolphins and Pilot Whales in the Faroe Islands, even without understanding the local language or taking a test.
The grind is not sustainable. - Entire families are killed indiscriminately, including pregnant females and juveniles too young to reproduce. - On-site investigations have proven that much of the meat is wasted: dumped into the sea, discarded after years in freezers, or even sold in local supermarkets. - The scientific data on the population size of pilot whales and other dolphins that migrate through the Faroe Islands is outdated and doesn’t take into account all of the other growing threats to their numbers, such as pollution, bycatch and ship strike. - Growing evidence shows that small cetaceans, like the larger species of whales, are more beneficial to the planet as important regulators of ocean ecosystems and capture carbon to help mitigate climate change. - Faroese people who eat pilot whale meat “regularly” only do so an average of twice per month, which isn’t indicative of an important food source.
Eating small cetaceans is toxic for humans - Medical professionals don’t recommend eating dolphin or pilot whale meat at all due to the high levels of contaminates, including microplastics and mercury.
Allowing affluent nations which don’t rely on cetacean meat for survival to continue deliberately killing them is cruel and unethical, especially considering the many other threats to small cetacean populations that are harder to prevent, including:
Bycatch and entanglement in fishing nets
Climate change and ocean acidification
Pollution: plastic marine debris, noise, chemicals
Starvation due to overfishing
The world is watching! International public awareness of the need to protect small cetaceans is growing, and the people expect their government representatives to take action:
The September 2021 slaughter of 1428 dolphins in the Faroe Islands gained unprecedented news coverage and international condemnation. (Read More)
In December 2021, the EU and its Member States party to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), but not including Denmark, issued a statement calling upon the Faroese Government to “immediately stop the outdated practice of whale and dolphin hunting”, criticizing the mass-killing of dolphins as “cruel and unnecessary”. (Read More)
Over 100,000 signatures were delivered to the UK Parliament by British citizens in 2022, demanding a temporary ban of the trade agreement with the Faroe Islands until they end whale and dolphin hunting. The initiative was debated in the UK Parliament in July 2022. (Read More)
A 2022 survey by the opinion research company OnePoll regarding Europeans’ perspectives on whale and dolphin hunts in the UK, Germany, and Denmark showed that 65% of respondents would support government action or boycotts in response to countries killing dolphins and whales. (Read More)
Conservation of migratory cetaceans only works if everyone is held accountable to the same standards. It’s absurd to allow nations like the Faroe Islands to kill the same Pilot whales and dolphins that swim through the waters of France or the UK.
Representatives of the Stop the Grind Coalition are in Slovenia for the IWC Conference to meet with delegates and other NGOs, gain their perspective on the issue of small cetaceans, and build relationships with like-minded parties working towards their conservation. We believe that through building a strong coalition we can effectively advocate for the protection of small cetaceans in the Faroe Islands.