The dolphins are killed for their meat and blubber
The government of the Faroe Islands is to review dolphin hunting rules after the mass killing of nearly 1,500 of the sea mammals on one day.
It comes after footage shows the mass slaughter of 1,428 dolphins on Sunday (12 septembre), on the central Faeroese island of Eysturoy.
The hunt was so large compared to previous years that it is feared that hunters may not have been able to follow regulations in place to minimise suffering of the animals.
The footage of the hunt sparked criticism from animal rights activists as well as residents of the Faroe Islands.
Captain Alex Cornelissen, the global chief executive of Sea Shepherd, which campaigns against whaling, said that it was “absolutely appalling to see an attack on nature of this scale in the Faroe Islands”.
“I get nauseous seeing this kind of thing,” said one commentator on the Facebook page of the local broadcaster Kringvarp Føroya.
Another commentator said: “I’m embarrassed to be Faroese.”
Faeroese Premier Bardur a Steig Nielsen said in a statement: “We take this matter very seriously. Although these hunts are considered sustainable, we will be looking closely at the dolphin hunts, and what part they should play in Faeroese society.”
Each year, islanders drive herds of the mammals – mainly pilot whales – into shallow waters, where they are stabbed to death. The hunts are regulated by law and the meat and blubber are shared on a community basis.
White-side dolphins and pilot whales, which are also killed on the islands, are not endangered species.
The Faeroese government said the “whale drives are a dramatic sight to people unfamiliar with the slaughter of mammals. The hunts are, nevertheless, well organized, and fully regulated.
“Faroese animal welfare legislation, which also applies to whaling, stipulates that animals shall be killed as quickly and with as little suffering as possible.”
The former chairman of the Faeroese association behind the drives, Hans Jacob Hermansen, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it was no different “from killing cattle or anything else. It’s just that we have an open abattoir.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press