Whaling in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic has been practiced since about the time of the first Norse settlements on the islands. It is regulated by Faroese authorities but not by the International Whaling Commission as there are disagreements about the Commission’s competency for small cetaceans. Around 950 Long-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala melaena) are killed annually, mainly during the summer. The hunts, called “grindadráp” in Faroese, are non-commercial and are organized on a community level; anyone can participate. The hunters first surround the pilot whales with a wide semicircle of boats. The boats then drive the pilot whales slowly into a bay or to the bottom of a fjord.
Pilot Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins are both captured during the kills and provide meat to the community, meaning it’s not sold in stores. The Faroese argue it’s a tradition lasting several centuries and their kill is rather humane compared to the lives that pigs, cattle and chickens live in the West. Pilot Whales live free their entire lives until the kill, in which may only submit the whales and dolphins to several minutes of extreme trauma and pain.
The Faroese Ministry of Health has since issued and advisory against eating whale meat as it now contains unhealthy levels of mercury and other poisons.